Published: Mon, June 19, 2017
Global Media | By Meredith Barber

Northam and Gillespie win nominations for Virginia governor

Northam and Gillespie win nominations for Virginia governor

The battle for the Republican nomination was too close to call Tuesday night, with Trump supporter Corey Stewart remaining neck-and-neck with former Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie as of 9:30 p.m., according to the Associated Press. He defeated Corey Stewart, a former Trump state campaign chairman who made preserving Virginia's Confederate history a top campaign issue.

Democratic legislative candidate Josh King talks about his hopes for winning a Republican-controlled seat in the Virginia House of Delegates in his campaign headquarters in Woodbridge, Virginia, United States, May 8, 2017.

The primary sets up a general election between a native Virginian with a soft drawl, Northam, who seeks to pair an appeal to bipartisan sensibilities with building anger at Trump, and Gillespie, a non-native originally from New Jersey who must find a way to lure election-deciding independents and hold voters loyal to the new president he has largely avoided.

Ralph Northam has won the Democratic nomination in Virginia's closely watched race for governor, defeating an insurgent challenger backed by U.S. Sens.

"Perriello had a lot of support from national players, whether it was Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren or members of the Obama team", Chambers said. Democrats in the region drove the higher turnout and also had more reason to head to the polls than Republican voters with seven contested House of Delegates primaries in addition to competitive races for lieutenant governor and governor.

As it is, Stewart proved it is very hard to move too far to the right for a primary in today's GOP.

Northam beat opponent Tom Perriello, a one-time USA representative for Virginia's 5th district, with roughly 55 percent of the vote statewide.

Stewart proudly flew the Confederate flag at his rallies and showed up often in Charlottesville, where local officials want to remove a statue of Robert E. Lee from the city's downtown. "I'm shocked. If Donald Trump didn't carry the state of Virginia, I don't know how Corey is going to", Nancy Russell, former Hanover County chairwoman said. Clinton ally and current Governor Terry McAuliffe endorsed the sitting Lieutenant Governor.

With almost all votes counted, Gillespie was leading Stewart by about 1.2 percentage points, 43.7 percent to 42.5 percent, which is just outside the margin for a recount in the state.

"There is one word you will never hear from me, and that's 'unity", Stewart told supporters gathered at a restaurant in Woodbridge.

Mr. Trump's shadow hung over both primaries, with Democratic voters in Alexandria saying they were physically repulsed by Mr. Trump and applauding Mr. Northam for labeling him a "narcissistic maniac" in one of his closing campaign ads.

Perriello entered the race long after Northam had locked up the backing of the state's party establishment and banked on his campaign drawing in younger voters and people of color who don't typically vote during statewide primaries. Those with more moderate views with the GOP stayed home.

Clothed in a T-shirt that displayed Smokey Bear wearing a "resist" hat, the Democrat voted for Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam, the party's establishment favorite, because he thought Northam could win in November.

For the Democrats, former Assistant U.S. Attorney Justin Fairfax earned the right to run for Lt. Governor by more than 40,000 votes over challengers Susan Platt and Gene Rossi.

"One of the things that I liked about his candidacy is that he seemed a bit more like a progressive candidate", said Priest, who voted for Sanders in the last presidential primary.

The Democrats have made elections in Virginia and Georgia a referendum on President Trump.

Gillespie vows to pursue "timeless conservative principles", including a 10 percent cut in state income tax rates.

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