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Blue America Welcomes Back Tom Perriello

Congressman-elect Perriello

When Mitchell Wade’s lawyer used the fact that he had turned over corruption evidence against 5 members of Congress to plead for a reduced sentence, the response from all quarters was pretty much, "Who else besides Virgil Goode?"

The first time I met Tom Perriello, the politically unconnected, idealistic young progressive who had decided to take on Goode, a deeply entrenched six-term fixture in south-central Virginia, he told me he planned to defeat Goode without making an issue out of the Culture of Corruption. It didn’t work in 2006 and Tom felt his values approach was a much better fit for the voters in VA-05. Instead he ran a positive campaign focused on solutions for the economy and offering a better plan for bringing jobs back to this hard-hit district. He was right.

He actually out-performed Obama in the district by around 1,300 votes, primarily because he picked up unexpected– by everyone but Tom– support from independents and moderate Republicans sick of Goode’s extremism. For anyone who wants to delve beyond the archived blog session we had with Tom back on June 28, Adam Serwer’s exhaustive wrap up piece for the American Prospect makes a very worthwhile read.

Even on election night when it looked like Tom would win I said that Goode would have to be dragged out of his office, probably chained to his furniture. When the Danville Register, in the reddest part of the district, endorsed Tom, they mentioned they hadn’t endorsed a Democrat for Congress since Goode was a Democrat. They’d supported him since 1996 but, they pointed out what so many people in VA-05 were feeling: "We haven’t left Virgil Goode. Virgil Goode has left us."

Anyway, in one of the closest congressional elections anywhere (158,712 to 157,967), Tom managed to win a real cliffhanger several days after most of the Blue America victors had started packing for the move to DC. Although the Virginia Board of Elections certified Tom’s 745 vote victory, Goode has refused to concede and is demanding a recount, viewed by most people as pointless– but costly.

There are 22 localities where the votes have to be recounted. Goode has two volunteer lawyers lined up for each locality. The state GOP is giving him massive support but no one is willing to say what they are spending.

Team Perriello plans to have one volunteer at each locality. They’ve already hired a legal team and believe the recount will cost them $100,000. That’s money the campaign still has to raise.

…The recount is simply a test to see if the vote tallies were recorded correctly. They’ll review computer printouts, re-run optical scan ballots, and count paper ballots by hand. No voting irregularities will be brought up at this time. It’s simply a check of the vote.

Officials with the State Board of Elections say the recount will be complete before Christmas, possibly as early as the second week of December… The results of the recount are final and cannot be appealed. According to Virginia code, the losing candidate’s only option is to challenge the results in court.

If anyone would like to join me help defray the costs to Tom’s campaign of this recount, Act Blue has kept his election site open for this very purpose and you can donate through our Blue America page. Eighteen of our congressional candidates won this year (9, including Tom, by defeating incumbents); let’s not watch Virgil Goode reduce that number.

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Howie Klein

Howie Klein

Howie Klein spent much of his life wandering around the world living in places like Afghanistan, Nepal, Holland and Morocco. He moved backed to America when Richard Nixon resigned and promptly helped start the first punk rock radio show in the country and then a DIY punk rock record label. His adventures in the music business ended a couple of years ago when he retired as president of Reprise Records. He began blogging almost immediately, starting Down With Tyranny. Jane taught him html while he held one of her dogs at a party. He is a raw foodist, lives in L.A., swims and hikes every day, thinks Howard Dean could be a president as great as FDR and will never be completely happy until Bush and Cheney are behind bars.