Northam’s sunny, low-key demeanor makes him widely liked in Richmond, but it could cut both ways as he seeks to replace term-limited Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D), especially since he is likely to face a Republican with sharper edges. In an ever-more-partisan Virginia, nice guys risk finishing last.
“Mark Warner almost lost his race by doing the too-nice Mark Warner,” said Stephen Farnsworth, a political scientist at the University of Mary Washington.
Farnsworth was referring to U.S. Sen. Mark Warner. The Virginia Democrat was elected governor in 2001, then won a Senate seat in 2008 with an appeal to moderates. But he barely squeaked past Republican Ed Gillespie for reelection last year.