Democratic Groups Announce Partnership With Northam's PAC

Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee previously called on Northam to resign

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam / Getty Images
June 20, 2019

National Democratic groups that previously called on Virginia governor Ralph Northam to resign announced a partnership with his political action committee to flip the commonwealth's Republican-controlled legislature this November.

The Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, the Democratic Party of Virginia, the House Democratic Caucus, and the Senate Democratic Caucus all called for Northam to resign after a photo on Northam's medical school yearbook page of a man in blackface and a man in a Ku Klux Klan outfit came to light in early February. Nonetheless, the groups are coordinating with Northam's Way Ahead PAC to help Democratic campaigns this election cycle.

The announcement pledges the "largest coordinated field campaign in the Commonwealth's history to win Democratic majorities" in the state legislature, but notably does not mention Northam's name.

"We are committed to securing a Democratic majority in the Virginia Assembly for the first time in two decades," Way Ahead PAC director Mark Bergman is quoted as saying, pledging to work with the legislative caucuses' political operations to "build a more equitable Commonwealth."

The Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, the top Democratic organization focused on state legislative elections, praised the partnership in an early Wednesday morning press release.

"The Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee is committed to working with our partners to Take the Majority this November," DLCC executive director Jessica Post said. "This field program will be of an unprecedented size. Along with our early investment pledge of $1 million, dedicated staff on the ground and our data—the DLCC will share the lessons and best practices we've learned in other states to ensure its success."

After the racist photos emerged, Post and her committee echoed calls from the Virginia Democratic legislative caucuses for Northam to resign.

"Virginia's dedicated Democratic legislators fight every day to make the Commonwealth a safe and welcoming place for all, and we support their view of a path forward for Virginia," Post said on Feb. 2.

"It is with heavy hearts that we have respectfully asked him to step down," the Democratic Senate caucus had said of Northam on Feb. 1, who had served in the state Senate from 2008 to 2014. The House Democratic caucus issued a similar statement shortly after the Senate, also asking for Northam to step down.

"While Republicans continue to play political games in Richmond, Democratic candidates across the commonwealth are talking to voters about the issues they care about: protecting health care, investing in education, and passing common-sense gun safety," Matt Harbinger, a DLCC spokesman, told the Washington Free Beacon. "Republicans are continuing to ignore these issues – and we’ll continue to outraise them, build our momentum, and flip the General Assembly this November."

The DLCC did not directly respond to questions from the Free Beacon about whether the committee still stood by its previous calls for the governor to resign.

The Republican State Leadership Committee criticized Democrats for their willingness to coordinate with Northam's PAC after they said he should resign.

"It's amazing how quick money causes Democrats to change their tune. Just a few months after calling for Governor Northam to resign, Democrats are now plotting and working to give him and Justin Fairfax even more power," RSLC communications director Dave Abrams told the Free Beacon.

"While they may have short memories, millions of Virginia voters don't," Abrams added.

Both chambers are expected to be closely contested this November as Republicans hold a one-seat majority in each. If Democrats flip both chambers in November they would have an all-Democratic state government in Virginia for the first time in over 20 years.

The Free Beacon reported in early June that Northam's PAC has donated $85,000 to 13 Democratic legislative candidates in the past few months since his college yearbook scandal. Many of those candidates had also previously called on Northam to resign.