Edward Gillespie wins Virginia's GOP primary for governor

Pauline Gross
June 19, 2017

Republican Ed Gillespie led a tight race all night in the GOP primary for Virginia's governor, beating out an ardent supporter of President Donald Trump.

In the other primary, former RNC Chairman Ed Gillespie was supposed to make quick work of defeating Corey Stewart, a one-time state chairman for President Donald Trump's 2016 campaign and the chairman of the Prince William County Board of Supervisors.

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.

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.

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

Northam dispatched Tom Perriello in a heavily attended primary, vanquishing the former one-term congressman's claim that a big turnout - fueled by his emphasis on national issues and the support of such progressive headliners as Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren - augured a win for his last-minute insurgent candidacy.

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.

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. Virginia is one of only two states electing new governors this year, 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.

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

Corey Stewart openly courted white nationalists in Virginia and locally.

"This fight will continue, and I'll continue to fight as long as you'll fight with me", Stewart told a roaring crowd of several dozen supporters. Northam had always been considered the Democrats' successor to Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who's prohibited by law from running for a second term.

"Virginia is going to be the match that sparks a progressive wildfire that spreads across the country". By 3 p.m. almost 14 percent, or 7,681 people, had voted. The initial strategy helped Perriello pull even, and by early May, Northam was running ads in which he called Trump a "narcissistic maniac". Outside groups have poured money and attention into Virginia, and a vast army of new candidates have flooded the Democratic side of House races - including a record number of women candidates.

A Stewart victory in the primary would, in effect, put Trump on the ballot - making November's election a clear referendum on the president and his policies and style.

Northam has been critical of some of Perriello's promises, like raising taxes on the wealthy to pay for social programs, saying they aren't realistic in a state where Republicans control the legislature.

Fairfax beat longtime party activist and former lobbyist Susan Platt and former federal prosecutor Gene Rossi in Tuesday's primary. Those with more moderate views with the GOP stayed home.

"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. Gillespie and Stewart say they want to cut the state's income tax rates.

Other reports by GizPress

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