RICHMOND, Va. — As Governor Ralph Northam prepares to leave office, he insists the Democratic Party in Virginia has a bright future. Northam says the huge defeat by the GOP this year was in part due to a muddled message.
In 2021, Democrats seemed to have the momentum. Terry McAuliffe, a well-known former governor, and fierce campaigner faced off against a political newcomer in Glenn Youngkin.
Democrats were poised to make history, electing the first woman of color to statewide office. The early polling was promising, but on Election Day, the victory and power in Richmond would go to the GOP.
"One of the things that I regret is that we didn't talk enough about what we've done as Democrats," Northam told me.
Northam says Democrats should have focused less on Donald Trump, and more on Virginia's top ranking as a place to do business, the party's embrace of diversity, the move toward renewable energy, and successes with transportation projects like the widening of the HRBT.
"I think as long as we continue to listen and say we tend to the needs of our fellow Virginians, then the Democratic Party will be strong," the governor added.
As for whether it's time for the establishment wing of his party to give way to the progressive movement, Northam brushed that off.
"You know, I have never used those semantics," he said.
As he prepares for the next chapter of his life, Dr. Northam told me it's unlikely his name will ever be on a ballot again.
"David, sometimes when you're away from something you realize how much really enjoyed it and missed it. I like taking care of children and their families and I look forward to going back to Hampton Roads and doing more of that," Northam said.
Northam says his party's bench is deep, from the Senate and House to city councils, even school boards. He does not think it will be long until Democrats will be back in power in Richmond.
As Governor Northam prepares to leave office, he says what concerns him most is our democracy. He hopes civility soon returns to our politics.
What happened on January 6, Northam says, when pro-Trump rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol to try and overturn the election deeply worries the governor.
"Every leader, I don't care whether you are Republican, Democrat, Independent, whatever, you should stand up and say what happened on January 6th was wrong," he says.
Governor Northam also said that when he turns over the keys on January 15, Governor-elect Youngkin will have a great opportunity to continue the progress that has been made and a responsibility to continue the progress as well.