During the final debate in the Virginia Governor’s race, Democratic candidate Creigh Deeds opted to share some of his “thinking” with the public:

[Deeds said] he “shared the broad goals” of health care reform, but would “certainly consider opting out” of a public option “if that were available to Virginia.”

“I’m not afraid of going against my fellow Democrats when they’re wrong,” Deeds said. “A public option isn’t required in my view.”

This is stupid on two levels. First, on a policy level, Creigh Deeds said health care reform needs to reduce cost. The CBO has repeatedly concluded that a public option would reduce the cost of insurance for middle class Americans.

The second problem is political. If recent polling data is any indication, a public option is much more popular than Creigh Deeds. Also, in an off year election, turning out your base is critical. Telling progressives that you plan to gut health care reform does not really get them rushing to the polls.

At least Deeds has done progressives one favor. He has shot a giant hole in one of the main arguments for the public option opt-out “compromise.” The argument is that no Republican governor (and/or state legislature) would be stupid enough to deny their constituents a public option that could save them thousands of dollars a year. Here we have a Democrat saying he might opt out a purple state. Then again, Deeds is not yet governor–and if he keeps this up, he never will be.

Update: The Deeds campaign is now trying to backpedal somewhat, but they still claim Deeds might consider opting out Virginia, and so would deny people the choice of a public option if he thought they should not have the choice.