Trump affects Virginia primaries, but not as expected

Cheryl Sanders
June 20, 2017

On the GOP side, former Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie is seen as the front runner over Prince William County Board Chairman Corey Stewart and long-time state Sen. He had been running as more Trump than Trump, making provocative statements and campaigning on the issue of preserving Confederate monuments.

Touting Northam's "chances of success in the face of likely Republican control" of the state legislature, the Post called him a "shrewd politician whose decade in office - six years as a state senator, and now as lieutenant governor - has made him highly regarded in Richmond, including among Republican lawmakers, who tried to recruit him to switch parties in 2009". He energized many new-to-politics voters who oppose Trump but was ultimately unable to expand the universe of Democratic primary voters enough to counter Northam's advantages.

On the Democratic side of the aisle, Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam and former U.S. Rep. Tom Perriello are facing off in an unexpectedly tight contest for the gubernatorial nomination. He beat former congressman Tom Perriello, with most polls reporting Tuesday.

Virginia is one of only two states electing governors this year, and the contest in the swing state that went for Hillary Clinton in November has received national attention.

People around Hampton Roads voted for Republican or Democratic gubernatorial candidates, Lt. Governor candidates, local delegates and other local positions.

"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.

"I'm shocked", said Nancy Russell, who was Hanover County chairwoman when Gillespie ran for Senate in 2014. You all said that someone who supported our president, somebody who supported President Trump ... somebody who was out financed five-to-one ... somebody who was fighting against the establishment could never win! I will be a governor for all Virginians, and our policies will benefit all Virginians.

Northam is lieutenant governor of Virginia and a pediatric neurologist at the Children's Specialty Group in Norfolk. We urge everyone - regardless of party affiliation - to turn out to vote in the elections they deem most important to them, whether it be the statewide races or the local contests.

At his victory party, Gillespie joked that he'd been fiscally prudent by not spending any more than was necessary to win the primary and asked the supporters of Stewart and Wagner to get behind him.

Gillespie was endorsed by a raft of state and national Republican leaders.

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

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.

Perriello campaigned on a promise to make Virginia "a firewall against hate, corruption and President Trump's assault on the Virginia values of decency and progress".

But Gillespie, apparently trying to conserve resources and cement his frontrunner status, had avoided appearances with his campaign rivals in recent weeks, preferring smaller, more controlled settings. "I think it has bigger consequences than people imagine".

At 9 a.m. Tuesday, 3 percent had cast ballots, the same overall voter turnout for the Democratic primary four years ago, James City voter registrar Dianna Moorman said.

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