Perriello hoping to leverage Tea Party choice to victory
There may be no Congressional District in the country where the Tea Party can have an impact like they can in the Virginia 5th. Congressman Tom Perriello is fighting for re-election against Republican Robert Hurt. Hurt is an establishment candidate with the party’s support, but someone who had to overcome a bitter primary with his opposition fueled in large part by different factions of the Tea Party in the sprawling 5th district.
Make no mistake, Perriello is not the man Tea Party supporters want to see return to Congress, but in an interview today on NBC12 First at 4, the Democrat admitted that their dissatisfaction with Hurt could be the key to his victory.
“They know Senator Hurt is not a true conservative; they don’t like him that much,” said Perriello. “And the question is do they hate me enough to overcome that or do they go for Jeff Clark who is in line with their platform and position.”
Jeffrey Clark is the independent candidate in the 5th and has the potential to draw enough votes away from Hurt to give Perriello a chance to win.
However at this point, the polls have not reflected that hope for Perriello. According to Real Clear Politics, which has cataloged polls connected to the race, Hurt leads consistently in almost every survey and Clark has not shown to impact the race much at all. The latest Roanoke College poll gives Clark only 1% of the vote and shows Hurt with a 6% lead. Real Clear Politics list the race as one that “Leans Republican”.
If that trend holds, Perriello will be forced to win the race on his own and that means defending his record that was liberal enough for the web site MoveOn.org to list him as a “Progressive Hero”. The moniker is part of a fund-raising effort to help endangered Democrats who support issues the group believes in. It has helped him raise more than $100,000, but also has become a frequent punching bag for Republicans. The Hurt campaign issued a press release on the subject and several GOP blogs have made sure voters know who Perriello is connected to.
Perriello wouldn’t say if MoveOn.org is a group whose values match the values of the relatively conservative 5th District. Instead he said that voters should appreciate that he is not afraid to stand up for what he believes in.
“There aren’t nearly enough politicians from either party to actually fight for everyday folks against the corporate interest groups that are there,” he said. ” I think someone who comes along is fighting for the people; other people want to have their back.”
At this point we don’t have an interview scheduled with Sen. Robert Hurt, but we are in the process of working with his campaign to make that happen. Independent Jeffrey Clarke is scheduled to join us Thursday October 28th.
You can see the complete interview with Rep. Perriello below. The full transcript is available at NBC12.com.