Published: Fri, June 16, 2017
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

Northam wins Democratic gubernatorial nomination

Instead of a neck-and-neck Democratic race between Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam and former Representative Tom Perriello, and a walk in the Republican primary for former Republican National Committee boss Ed Gillespie, Northam sailed to an early, comfortable win while Gillespie barely eked out a win over Prince William County Board Chairman Corey Stewart.

Corey Stewart consistently aligned himself with President Trump.

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. State Sen. Frank Wagner was on course to finish a distant third.

Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam easily won the Democratic nomination for governor of the southern state, besting challenger Tom Perriello.

But many Democrats voted pragmatically, wanting to choose someone with the most time in state government. He said he expects the party to unite against Gillespie in order to keep Northam out of the Executive Mansion.

The Perriello-Northam race between has been closely watched by Democrats across the country.

He and his supporters claimed a moral victory in the loss, saying they forced Mr. Northam to run to the left.

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Republican strength has eroded in recent Virginia elections, with Democrats now holding all statewide offices. "We don't even know how scary that individual might be yet", he said, referring to the down-to-the-wire fight between Stewart and Gillespie.

Virginia Republican gubernatorial hopeful Ed Gillespie greets voters mid-afternoon at the polls at Glen Allen High School, near Richmond, Va., on primary day across the state on Tuesday June 13, 2017.

"It is time for us to get back on offense and stop playing so many defenses", he said, the AP reported.

Voters head to the polls Tuesday in Virginia's primary contests for governor, with the white hot Democratic contest coming down to a choice between heads and hearts.

Ed Gillespie's narrow victory against former Trump state campaign chairman Stewart provided the night's biggest surprise.

His primary victory would suggest that Virginia, though next door to Washington, D.C., still makes a distinction between national and state politics.

Stewart, with his prominent connections to the campaign, ran as a vocal Trump backer.

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Many voters, though, flocked to Northam because of his experience in the General Assembly as a state senator and lieutenant governor.

In the primary for lieutenant governor, Justin Fairfax, an attorney from northern Virginia, has won the Democratic nomination while Republican Jill Vogel won her party's nomination. She couldn't immediately be reached for comment late Tuesday but has promised to put "principle over party" and has called for a ban on gifts to politicians and redistricting reform. That level of enthusiasm bodes well for the Democrats in Virginia to hold on to the governorship.

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. I will be a governor for all Virginians, and our policies will benefit all Virginians. But there is a catch: You can only vote in one primary, either the Democratic primary or the Republican primary.

That lack of enthusiasm may have affected turnout.

Perriello's big test is whether that national support will attract more voters in a primary, which typically has lower turnout compared with a general election. "I trust his dedication to all Virginians", Lee said of Northam.

"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.

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