Health Care

Northam Wins Virginia Democratic Primary, Gillespie Clinches in Tight GOP Race

Northam Wins Virginia Democratic Primary, Gillespie Clinches in Tight GOP Race”

In a race that remained close throughout Tuesday evening, Ed Gillespie captured the Republican primary for the Virginia governor's race while Ralph Northam clinched the Democratic spot.

With 99 percent of precincts reporting on the GOP side, Gillespie led former Trump state campaign chairman Corey Stewart by just over 4,000 votes out of almost 365,000 ballots cast.

The primary sets up a general election between a native Virginian with a soft drawl, Northam, who seeks to pair an appeal to bipartisan sensibilities with building anger at Trump, and Gillespie, a non-native originally from New Jersey who must find a way to lure election-deciding independents and hold voters loyal to the new president he has largely avoided. The initial strategy helped Perriello pull even, and by early May, Northam was running ads in which he called Trump a "narcissistic maniac".

Democrats didn't initially think they'd have a primary contest until former U.S. Rep. Tom Perriello announced his surprise bid against Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam in January. Thanks in large part to aggressive gerrymandering in the Virginia House of Delegates, I will get to choose between total Republican dominance of my home state or gridlock.

Gillespie polled below both Democratic challenge unanimously in the May polls, earning only 38 percent compared to Northam's 49 percent, and 37 percent compared to Perriello's 50 percent in the latest WaPo poll. Former RNC Chair Ed Gillespie won the Republican nomination in a close race.

Virginia's election - which was viewed as a proxy war, of sorts, for progressives - ultimately stands out because it is one of only two states voting for governor this year.

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.

A variety of Virginia politicos to whom CNN spoke peg the magic number at 375,000 voters - above that number could be good for Perriello, but below that should indicate a Northam win. "I'm shocked. If Donald Trump didn't carry the state of Virginia, I don't know how Corey is going to", Nancy Russell, former Hanover County chairwoman said.

Perriello conceded defeat about 90 minutes after the polls closed.

What this means is that, if a Republican wins this November's gubernatorial race, that Republican is highly likely to have a GOP state house and senate that will enact the full Republican agenda. Gillespie, a GOP insider, was more cautious. A little more than 319,000 Democrats turned out in a three-way primary in 2009.

Northam will face Ed Gillespie in the general election. Northam received 1,931 unofficial votes to Perriello's 1,555.

Northam is lieutenant governor of Virginia and a pediatric neurologist at the Children's Specialty Group in Norfolk.

Others were less enthused, including Stewart supporters who called Mr. Gillespie a "RINO", or Republican in Name Only, and said he "might as well be a Democrat".

Another top GOP strategist cast the Virginia results as "horrible news" for those lukewarm toward Trump previous year.

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. Gillespie took to Twitter to thank his supporters for his victory.

Whichever candidate wins tonight, Northam and Perriello are both expected at a Democratic unity rally tomorrow in Fairfax County featuring Governor Terry McAuliffe and Attorney General Mark Herring.

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

"Our nominees will be traveling across the Commonwealth providing a clear alternative to the Northam/Perriello race to the left", the site says.

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