Progressive group endorses Sanders-backed candidate in Va. governors race

Progressive group endorses Sanders-backed candidate in Va. governors race
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A national progressive group is endorsing former Rep. Tom Perriello (D-Va.), hoping to channel voter enthusiasm from Georgia's special election into the Democratic primary for Virginia governor.

The Progressive Change Campaign Committee’s (PCCC) Virginia team will coordinate with Perriello’s campaign, training field volunteers and launching a fundraising campaign on behalf of him.

Perriello is running against Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam as the Democrats get ready to square off in a primary on June 13. Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) is term-limited out of the position, leaving an open seat.

Perriello, who served a short stint in Congress from 2008 to 2010, has racked up progressive endorsements, including a coveted one from Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersSanders: FBI inquiry of wife is 'pathetic' attack Why UK millennials voting for socialism could happen here, too WATCH LIVE: Senate Dems hold ‘People’s Filibuster’ against ObamaCare repeal MORE (I-Vt.).

The former presidential candidate is campaigning with him and kicked it off with an appearance at George Mason University to help rally college students who flocked to Sanders’s presidential campaign.

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“Tom Perriello has the backbone to fight back against Trump’s assault on our rights and values, and push for a bold progressive agenda that will tangibly improve the lives of all Virginians,” said PCCC co-founder Stephanie Taylor, who worked on Perriello’s 2008 congressional campaign.

Taylor cited a strong showing in a Georgia special election Tuesday by Democrat Jon Ossoff, who will advance to a runoff for the House seat.

“Jon Ossoff’s first-place finish in ruby-red Georgia shows that the intense anti-Trump grassroots fervor isn’t going anywhere. PCCC will be funneling that energy into Perriello’s campaign, which could be the biggest Resistance victory in the states in 2017 -- impacting the grassroots energy and political wisdom going into 2018.”

This is the PCCC’s second-ever gubernatorial endorsement. The progressive group also announced earlier this week its support for Democrats in other local Virginia races: Justin Fairfax for lieutenant governor and five candidates running to serve in Virginia’s General Assembly.

The group was heavily involved in the nationally watched Georgia special election and is hoping to replicate the momentum for Ossoff's campaign in other races such as statewide races in Virginia.

Northam was expected to have the primary field to himself after securing endorsements from McAuliffe and a majority of elected Democratic officials in Virginia. But Perriello has upended the race and has sparked attention with his vocal anti-Trump rhetoric.

While Northam has taken shots at Trump, he is playing up his long service in Virginia state politics. Perriello has never served as an elected official at the state level.

The Virginia race is one of the few statewide elections this year. The primary is expected to be seen as a litmus test on Democratic politics in Trump’s first year in the White House.