Northam defeats Perriello for Democratic nomination for governor; Gillespie wins GOP nod

Ed Gillespie has narrowly won his party's nomination in Virginia's race for governor, eking out a victory against an ardent supporter of President Donald Trump.

Winchester State Sen. Jill Vogel won a three-way race for the Republican lieutenant governor nomination, with 42.8 percent of the vote, to 40 percent for Bryce Reeves and 17.2 percent for Glenn Davis.

The Republican primary races, by contrast, were significantly closer, with governor candidates Edward W. Gillespie and Corey A. Stewart neck-and-neck for much of the night, though Stewart never managed to overtake the presumed GOP frontrunner. The dichotomy evoked comparisons to the 2016 Democratic presidential primary between the upstart Sanders and the establishment Hillary Clinton.

Northam easily defeated former Congressman Tom Perriello in a race that polls had suggested was a dead heat before Northam racked up a slew of last-minute endorsements, including a highly coveted one from The Washington Post. Stewart has tried to overcome his campaign's financial disadvantage by continually courting controversy, notably with a full-throated defense of Virginia's Confederate history and monuments.

Northam had the support of the state Democratic Party's core constituencies, including teachers groups and African-American political and religious leaders.

"If I am entrusted with governorship of the Commonwealth we love, I will be an ethical, honest, hard-working, principled Governor", Gillespie continued.

Gillespie is backed by most of the state party establishment and has focused on pocketbook issues, including proposing a modest cut to the state's income tax rate.

On the Republican side, Gillespie, a moderate Washington insider, is trying to fend off under-funded but spirited campaigns from Wagner and Stewart, an avid Trump supporter. Mark Warner in 2014, when Democrats across the country were swept from office.

"Nearly more Virginians voted for Ralph Northam tonight than Ed Gillespie and Corey Stewart combined", Susan Swecker, chair of the Democratic Party of Virginia, said in a statement. The Democrats have moved way too far to the left - too far left for a state like Virginia.

While Stewart did not immediately concede the election, Gillespie declared victory at an election night party at his Richmond campaign headquarters.

John Carr of Winchester, Va. walks into his polling place Tuesday, June 13, 2017, to vote in the Virginia Primary Election where a Republican and Democratic candidate for governor and lieutenant governor will be chosen.

However, the battle between Northam and Perriello was not the only noteworthy development for liberals - grassroots anti-Trump fervor also led to an unprecedented number of Democrats wrangling for seats in Virginia's House of Delegates.

Virginia voters picked their parties' nominees for governor, lieutenant governor and dozens of House of Delegates races on Tuesday, plus local contests in some areas. All six being challenged this year have big fundraising leads over their opponents.

"This November, the voters of Virginia will send a strong message to Donald Trump by electing Ralph Northam as their next governor". "I liked (Perriello) a lot, but I didn't think he could quite get enough people behind him in the general election". Two months ago, Stewart participated in an "ask me anything" session on Reddit's largest pro-Trump forum, where, among other things, he called Gillespie a "cuckservative". That's the type of enthusiasm Democrats have been banking on to build a midterm election backlash to Trump, and the 2017 Virginia race will be a critical test of whether or not they can do that.

  • Leroy Wright