Virginia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tom Perriello is launching his first campaign commercial, touting his closeness to former president Barack Obama.
The 30-second spot, which the campaign says is airing statewide as part of a “six-figure” buy, begins with footage from a 2010 rally, where the former president campaigned with Perriello as part of his unsuccessful bid for a second term in Congress.
“Tom went to Washington to take on the insurance companies, and the credit card companies, and the Wall Street banks, and that’s what Tom Perriello is about,” Obama says in the ad, before a shot shows the two men on a stage embracing each other before an enthusiastic crowd.
The commercial transitions to Perriello speaking to the camera as he walks out of a bucolic home in rolled up shirtsleeves and jeans, describing his work on progressive causes before he was elected to Congress in 2008.
“Now I’m running for governor to reduce economic inequality because together we really can build a Virginia that works for everyone,” Perriello says.
The advertisement highlights his campaign’s populist message and appears designed to raise Perriello’s standing with African American voters, a key bloc of the Democratic primary electorate, by tying him to the popular former president.
Obama, who appointed Perriello to the State Department after he lost his re-election bid, has stayed out of the gubernatorial primary. His 2008 campaign manager and multiple senior staffers in his administration are backing Perriello.
The ad buy comes a week after rival Democratic candidate Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam hit the airwaves.
Northam’s first ad, in contrast, featured several Virginians praising his work on progressive causes in the legislature and ended with the lieutenant governor denouncing President Trump. His campaign has since announced two new commercials airing in the Northern Virginia market, including one where he touts his record on gun control and calls Trump a narcissistic maniac.
Perriello, who has also run a campaign critical of Trump, does not mention the president in his first advertisement.
Recent polls have found a close race ahead of the June 13 Democratic primary, with both candidates largely unknown to voters. Northam had twice as much campaign cash ($3.3 million) than Perriello at the end of March.
None of the three Republican candidates — former strategist Ed Gillespie, chairman of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors Corey A. Stewart and state Sen. Frank Wagner (Virginia Beach) — have launched sustained ad buys.