June 28, 2017

Establishment candidates prevail in Virginia governor primaries

19 June 2017, 02:07 | Darnell Patrick

2 Virginia Democrats vying to be face of Trump resistance

Republican gubernatorial candidates Corey Stewart left state Sen. Frank Wagner center and Ed Gillespie right participate in a Tea Party debate at Goochland High School in Goochland Va. The thre

Stewart, the chairman of the Prince William County Board of Supervisors and a former co-chairman of Trump's campaign in Virginia, ran a controversial campaign, promising to fight the removal of Virginia's Confederate memorials and to crack down on illegal immigration, and pledging his loyalty to Trump and his policies.

Ed Gillespie won the Republican nomination for Governor in a Tuesday primary, but his margin over 2nd-place finisher Corey Stewart was slightly more than 4300 votes.

The close Republican result shocked many political watchers and shows Trump's enduring appeal among Republican voters in Virginia.

Perriello ran against Northam as an unapologetic liberal crusader supported by prominent national Democrats like Sens.

The Democratic campaign focused on Northam's experience as a lawmaker working with Republicans, and Perriello saying he could better harness the frustration voters feel over Trump to forge a new direction for the party and bring in new voters for the general election in November.

While Northam defeated former one-term congressman Tom Perriello in the Democratic primary, Gillespie had a slight edge on Corey Stewart and Frank Wagner on the Republican ballot as of deadline.

The Historic Triangle sided with the rest of Virginia on Tuesday, picking Democrat Ralph Northam and trending with Republican Ed Gillespie as candidates for November's race for governor.

Virginia is one of only two states electing new governors this year (New Jersey is the other), and the swing-state contest is likely to draw intense national scrutiny for signs of how voters are reacting to Trump's first year in office.

"We have changed the conversation here in Virginia and elevated the voices of those who have been left out of the political conversation for too long", Perriello said, pointing specifically to his calls for a $15 minimum wage and a "clean energy future" that doesn't include new natural-gas pipelines.

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However, Northam easily defeated Perriello, winning nearly 56 percent of the vote. Stewart, who rallied around Confederate symbols, was seen as little more than a nuisance, and a minor one at that. "I don't know about you, but I am inspired to keep fighting tonight".

Virginian's also chose nominees for lieutenant governor, with three candidates running in each party. Gillespie held a slim lead throughout the night and ended up with 43.7 percent of the votes. He used those advantages to shore up support from numerous state Democratic Party's core constituencies, including teachers' groups and African-American political and religious leaders. Perriello's last-minute entry into the race earlier this year forced Northam to ratchet up his campaign much sooner than expected to take on Perriello's challenge from his left flank.

In his victory speech, Gillespie tried to play peacemaker and asked Stewart supporters to get behind him for the general election.

Interestingly, though, neither Northam nor Perriello is as true-blue Democrat as the campaign might have led voters to believe.

The Democrats have made elections in Virginia and Georgia a referendum on President Trump. Those with more moderate views with the GOP stayed home.

The trajectory most everyone expected the primaries in the Virginia governor's race Tuesday night was flipped over.

Gillespie was in a much tighter race for the GOP nomination, defeating Corey Stewart by 4,300 votes in a three-way race, with State Sen.

Susan Platt, a former chief of staff for former Vice President Joe Biden, came in 39 percent of the vote, and longtime Justice Department prosecutor Gene Rossi trailed the field with under 12 percent.

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