Gillespie wins GOP nomination in governor's race

Cheryl Sanders
June 20, 2017

He defeated Corey Stewart, a former Trump state campaign chairman who made preserving Virginia's Confederate history a top campaign issue.

A closer-than-ever-imagined race in Virginia's Republican primary for governor taught the GOP an important lesson Tuesday: Underestimate the mini-Trumps at your own risk.

The race had been described as "the fight for the soul of the Democratic party" with Perriello running as the outsider candidate with ads showing his endorsement from the party's progressive wing including Senators Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). The strategist singled out two House members in Alabama: Mo Brooks, who once characterized Trump as a "serial" adulterer, and Martha Roby, who pulled her support from Trump after videotape surfaced of him bragging about making aggressive sexual advances on women.

"It is time for us to get back on offense and stop playing so much defense", Northam said. He avoided taking sides in the 2016 primary until early May, when he came out for Trump, and has since tried to keep his distance from the president.

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.

At Northam's event in Arlington, there were cheers and high fives as news spread that he had been declared the victor.

"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.

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


"Initial takeaways are that Northam performed strongly in the Urban Crescent- Northern Virginia, Richmond, and Hampton Roads-and that was all he had to do in the end", says Geoffrey Skelly of the University of Virginia Center for Politics. "He cares for everyone".

Northam faced former Rep. Tom Perriello in the primary.

In his concession speech, Perriello vowed to help Northam on his path to victory - saying a "movement" was "rising up". He's accused Gillespie of trying to mislead voters with unrealistic promises to cut taxes as governor, while calling for a gas tax increase himself to pay for transportation projects. But Stewart repeatedly blasted the former Washington lobbyist as a product of the "swamp" Trump had pledged to drain.

"We agreed that we're going to bring all Democrats under the tent starting tonight".

He promises "to continue the revolution that Donald Trump started".

Virginia voters picked their parties' nominees for governor, lieutenant governor and dozens of House of Delegates races Tuesday, plus local contests in some areas. Perriello led in four of the latest seven polls taken in the race since May, and Northam took the lead in the remaining three. Northam, the sitting lieutenant governor, was the establishment favorite, backed by current Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Virginia U.S. Sens.

Perriello called Northam a "good public servant and a good man".

"I think he has the ability to move Virginia forward like McAuliffe has", the 80-year-old said.


Republican Ed Gillespie won his party's nomination to be his party's candidate for Virginia Governor.

Republicans Corey Stewart, Frank Wagner and Ed Gillespie will face off on today's ballot.

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.

Gillespie dominated his challengers in fundraising efforts.

Northam beat former congressman Tom Perriello.

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

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.


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