Several hundred gathered in Fairfax to see Perriello speak with Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.
In a new high water mark for his upstart gubernatorial campaign, Democrat Tom Perriello has topped the all potential opponents in the latest major poll. According to a recently released Quinnipiac University Poll, Perriello wins 25 percent of the vote in his Democratic primary match up against incumbent Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam. The poll showed 20 percent for Northam and another 51 percent still undecided ahead of the June 13 primary.
Polls conducted in January had Northam with a sizable lead while two more recent polls had them tied.
Both Democrats are leading Republican front runner Ed Gillespie in a possible general election match up. Perriello leads 46 percent to 33 percent in the poll while Northam wins 44-33.
“Seven months before the November election, the early signs are very positive for the Democrats,” said Assistant Poll Director Peter Brown.
Perriello, a former one-term congressman from Virginia’s 5th District, has campaigned unabashedly on progressive values. With low support for Republican President Donald and the GOP-controlled Congress, Perriello has captured an energized liberal electorate looking to repudiate conservatism in one of the first major elections after Trump took office.
“Polls go up and down, but it’s clear the momentum is on our side,” said Perriello Communications Director Ian Sams. “Tom’s bold progressive message of inclusion and economic opportunity for all is taking off across Virginia.”
Perriello has continued the momentum this week by going on a tour across Virginia’s universities. He made free community college for all Virginians a hallmark of his campaign, and drew hundreds to a high-profile rally with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) last week at George Mason University.
“This breakneck pace isn’t for show: it’s because Tom knows if we cover every corner of the state, then our bold campaign of progressive ideas can win — and win big,” Sams said. “It’s why he’s well positioned to defeat Gillespie in November. It’s why he’s surging in this race today.”
The race between Perriello and Northam has drawn comparisons to the 2016 Democratic presidential primary between the self-described Democratic Socialist Sanders and party establishment candidate Hillary Clinton. The gubernatorial race is one of two, along with New Jersey’s, conducted the year following a presidential election, and is being viewed from a national perspective as a referendum on Trump, Republican leadership and the future direction of the Democratic party.
Northam has received the endorsements of nearly every major Democratic party member and several key liberal groups, but it’s Perriello, who entered the race in January, that has so far captured the largest support base heading into the summer primary season.
“Northam originally had been expected to coast to the nomination, but former Congressman Tom Perriello is inching ahead,” Brown said.
As he has in nearly every other major poll, Gillespie has lead his Republican challengers. A former GOP chair and 2014 Senate candidate, Gillespie is receiving 28 percent of the vote while Prince William County Board of Supervisors Chair Corey Stewart has 12 and state Sen. Frank Wagner has 7. With 51 percent of voters still undecided, Gillespie nevertheless continues his frontrunner status ahead of the Republican primary.