There is currently a Virginia primary that is being compared to the likes of Bernie Sanders versus Hillary Clinton. Establishment figure Ralph Northam has shared similarities to Clinton, as he has been perceived to have corporate ties and a rhetoric that has plagued Clinton during the presidential primaries. On the other hand, Tom Perriello, Democratic rival to Northam, is being pushed as someone likened to Bernie Sanders. However, when you put both candidates under a microscopic, the comparisons between Perriello and Sanders quickly crumbles.

Perriello isn't a fringe politician that has entered the Democratic Party and has caused progressive waves - he's a longtime Democrat who has been immersed in the party's infrastructure.

Perriello, just like Northam, has a track record that is tinged and may even be antagonistic to the progressive movement of today. Northam backed Republican George W. Bush in 2004 and Perriello voted for anti-abortion mandates in the Affordable Care Act. Regardless of who wins, Virginia is voting for progressive candidates who supports a $15 minimum wage and free community college. Unpacking the populist clout of Perriello is important.

Tom Perriello - Pragmatic Populist

Perriello is going to agitate not only the Republican Party but also Democrats. While Northam gained the support of corporate Democrats, Perriello has showcased a type of populist agenda that is cognizant of the Democratic Party's shortcoming.

Perriello versus Northam

The central chasm between Perriello and Northam are their views of the state of the Democratic Party and problems with Virginia.

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Northam positions himself as some sort of locksmith, where Virginia is "gridlocked" due to some kind of bureaucracy. He wants to bridge the Republican and Democratic Party to ensure timely progress. Perriello, however, is actively attacking an aspect of the Democratic Party that citizens have complained about this past election cycle: he wants to change the culture where politicians are beholden to corporate interests. It's a sort of populism hallmarked by Sander's campaign, an appeal that captured the attention of the everyday citizen but was mostly discouraged by corporate Democrats and the Democratic National Committee.

Perriello is also succeeding in an area that was failed by Sanders - gaining success with Black American voters. Perriello wrote a piece about the racial wealth gap, speaking to power predatory lenders, the trends of discrimination, and empowering Virginia's Black community.

Soon enough, we will learn if Perriello's populist agenda and racial egalitarianism will get him anywhere.