RICHMOND — Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam (D) is trying hard to elevate his profile as he makes a bid for governor this year, but for the next six weeks or so he’s anchored to the State Capitol for the General Assembly session.
On Tuesday, though, he got a chance to stand out.
As part of his duties, Northam (D), has to preside over the Senate while his rival, former congressman Tom Perriello, is out raising money to mount his challenge for the Democratic nomination for governor.
The exceedingly formal chamber, where one member can’t even address another without asking Northam for permission, was proceeding in a stately manner from one bill to the next. Up came SB981, a relatively tame and arcane measure creating liability protection for administrators of charity health clinics.
Suddenly, there was a commotion up on the dais where Northam presides. “One of the pages just collapsed,” Northam said, and before anyone could react he was down off the dais, running up the center aisle and pushing through the glass doors out of the chamber.
One of the knocks on Northam as a candidate is that he has an overly calm - some would say boring - demeanor.
But now he was down on all fours giving medical attention to a young page in jacket and tie who was stretched out on the carpeted floor in the hallway.
Sen. Siobhan Dunnavant (R-Henrico), who is also a doctor, came over to help.
Senators milled around in surprise, absorbing what had happened. Someone brought bottles of water. Sen. Jill Holtzman Vogel of Fauquier, who is seeking the Republican nomination to replace Northam as lieutenant governor, walked over to check on some other pages at a spot near the dais.
“Luckily,” she told them, “we’ve got a pediatric neurologist in the chamber.”
That would be Northam, who strolled back in just two or three minutes later.
“Thank you for that brief recess,” he said, as senators returned to their seats. “Everybody is fine and we can proceed with our business.”
The page had apparently just been tired and dehydrated. And Northam, who has yet to really begin introducing himself to Virginians, was in the right place at the right time.