Ralph Northam wins Democratic primary for Virginia governor in closely watched race

Claudine Rigal
Juin 20, 2017

In the three-way Republican primary, former Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie held a narrow lead over Corey Stewart, a Prince William County official who was Trump's Virginia campaign co-chairman before he was sacked.

What makes Gillespie's close shave terrifying to Republicans everywhere is that Stewart ran a campaign based on cultural hyper-conservatism (especially an aggressive defense of Confederate monuments) and loyalty to Donald Trump.

The gubernatorial race in Virginia, the only state other than New Jersey electing a new governor this year, is seen as a key test of President Donald Trump's popularity ahead of the 2018 mid-term elections for the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.

Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam easily won the Democratic nomination for governor of the southern state, besting challenger Tom Perriello. The dichotomy evoked comparisons to the 2016 Democratic presidential primary between the upstart Sanders and the establishment Hillary Clinton.

Unofficial results from the state Department of Elections in the Democratic primary, with 99.9 percent of districts reporting, were Northam, 303,051 (55.9 percent); Perriello, 239,028 (44.1 percent).

After a closely contested race to shape the future of the Democratic Party, Tom Perriello lost to Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam in the Virginia gubernatorial primary. Outside groups have poured money and attention into Virginia, and a vast army of new candidates have flooded the Democratic side of House races - including a record number of women candidates.

"Virginia is going to be the match that sparks a progressive wildfire that spreads across the country".

Democrats will need to avoid going far left in order to benefit from GOP defections.

Democratic Governors Association Chairman Dan Malloy of CT, meanwhile, said in a statment that Northam would "continue Governor McAuliffe's work of growing the economy, fighting for the middle class and protecting Virginians' health care".

"There is one word you will never hear from me, and that's unity", Stewart says. Virginia is one of two states electing governors this year.

Northam is lieutenant governor of Virginia and a pediatric neurologist at the Children's Specialty Group in Norfolk.

Stewart trailed by larger than 1 percent of the vote at the time the Associated Press called the race, effectively eliminating him from a qualifying recount appeal.

Gillespie, a former George W. Bush aide, campaigned off the goodwill he established with Republicans after his narrow loss to Democratic Sen. Gillespie, a GOP insider, was more cautious.

A Stewart victory in the primary would, in effect, put Trump on the ballot - making November's election a clear referendum on the president and his policies and style. Northam had pushed his campaign further to the left and has described Trump as a narcissistic maniac - while Perriello instead attempted to reach out to Trump voters by selling a message of economic populism framed through a progressive perspective.

In the Republican race, Gillespie enjoyed a huge fundraising advantage against Stewart and state Sen.

Gillespie's tight victory over Prince William County Board of Supervisors chair Corey Stewart came as a major surprise. Trump's approval rating in Virginia, in public and private polls, is now about 35 percent, creating headwinds for Gillespie and other Republicans.

Vogel's win in the GOP lieutenant governor's primary was a painful defeat for Reeves, who pummeled Vogel with direct mail attacks during the campaign. "I think he stands for the values that Virginians want at this point".

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