Ralph Northam has a run-in with his past

Over the weekend, a bit of controversy erupted in the otherwise uninteresting Democratic primary for lieutenant governor. it seems as though Sen. Ralph Northam is telling folks he had neither any intention of switching parties back in 2009, or of working with the GOP on a power sharing agreement in the state Senate. He later said he was open to the idea of sharing power with Senate Republicans if they met some gauzy conditions regarding fair play.

This has some of the Democratic faithful up in arms and rushing, albeit somewhat reluctantly, into the arms of Northam’s challenger, Aneesh Chopra.

There is plenty of room for disagreement on what Northam did and did not do four years ago. That the issue only rears its head in the Democratic primary a week out from the election is rather odd. It should have been topic A from the start.

All that aside, it is interesting to see, yet again, that Democrats are not immune to purity tests. Republicans are regularly pilloried for such endeavors, but Democrats? Not so much.

Democrats have a purge of their own underway in the Petersburg House district currently represented by Del. Rosalyn Dance. Her crime, in the words of Democratic Torquemada Joe Morrissey, “Rosalyn has masqueraded as a Democrat who then turned around and voted Republican.”

Dance could find herself following the path of former Democratic Sen. Ben Lambert, who was ousted from his seat for being far too chummy with George Allen over the years — and who sealed his fate by committing the high crime of endorsing Allen in the 2006 U.S. Senate contest with Jim Webb.

I’ve long though Chopra would bets Northam for the lieutenant governor nomination because he would be able to muster national resources behind him. Whether the Northam kerfuffle makes Chopra’s victory a certainty is yet to be seen. But it doesn’t hurt.

And if Northam’s murky party switch/power sharing past decides the contest, Democrats will, again, have purged the ranks of a potential unbeliever. Just don’t look for them to catch much grief for doing so. That narrative is reserved exclusively for the GOP.