Gillespie, Northam Win GOP and Democratic Primaries in Virginia Governor's Race

"Virginia will be more hotly contested than ever", said Stephen Farnsworth, a political analyst at the University of Mary Washington.

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.

Yet Stewart very almost knocked off Gillespie anyway, falling just 4,300 votes short to come within about 1 percent of the failed 2014 Senate candidate - in all Gillespie took home 43.7 percent of the vote compared to Stewart's 42.5 percent, while state Sen.

Gillespie - former Republican National Committee chairman, political consultant and 2014 U.S. Senate candidate running on an economy-focused message and calls to cut taxes - edged firebrand Corey Stewart, who modeled himself after President Donald Trump.

Democratic candidate for governor, Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam, greets voters on Tuesday in Chesterfield, Va.

Northam won the Democratic nomination handily enough that the Associated Press called his victory just after 8:00 p.m. Tuesday when about 37 percent of precincts in the state had still not yet reported their results.

As final results came in for Virginia's primary contests Tuesday, voters were getting their first look at the shape of the races for November'... Obama has remained neutral in the race, but many of his former aides have lined up behind Perriello.

In the Republican primary, Gillespie beat Stewart 44 percent to 42 percent with Frank Wagner earning 14 percent of the vote. Because of that, it's time for Virginians to choose a new governor. Democrats already hold every statewide office in Virginia, and in the closing days of the primary race, the other four-Governor Terry McAuliffe, Attorney General Mark Herring, and Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine-were stumping with Northam.

Gillespie basically ignored his competition, flame-throwing chair of the Prince William County Board of Supervisors Corey Stewart, and the strategy seemed to work.

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".

Isaac Smith, 21, of Charlottesville, who campaigned for Stewart, said Stewart's showing was "remarkable" given the fact that he was badly outspent.

Northam, a pediatric neurologist, ran as a pragmatist with the state's Democratic establishment's firm support. Gillespie took to Twitter to thank his supporters for his victory.

"People ask me, 'Ralph, are you going to keep doing what Governor McAuliffe is doing?' I say, 'Damn right I am, ' " Northam said as the crowd roared. The former Republican National Committee chairman, garnered 43.7 percent of Republican primary votes. "And we were very clear in stepping into this race that we were going to be that brick wall against Trump's policies", Perriello said in an interview.

The 48-year-old surgical assistant at a local hospital, who also sells life insurance, voted for Trump and remains steadfast in his support. Northam has pushed his campaign further to the left and has described Trump as a narcissistic maniac - while Perriello has attempted to reach out to Trump voters by selling a message of economic populism framed through a progressive perspective.

"It is time for us to get back on offense and stop playing so much defense", Northam said. Perriello drilled him on the decision throughout the campaign. "And so I think it's fair to refer to him as a narcissist, because that's what he is".

Instead, the state of Virginia - and the nation - witnessed a decisive victory on the Democrats' side and a nail bitter on the GOP front.

  • Salvatore Jensen