U.S.

Establishment candidates prevail in Virginia governor primaries

Establishment candidates prevail in Virginia governor primaries

As for the Democratic candidates, the race has come down to two candidates - Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam and former congressman Tom Perriello.

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.

That will be especially important for Perriello, who is counting on a wave of Democratic enthusiasm and is running without the benefit of the party infrastructure.

The biggest surprise was on the Republican side.

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.

Channeling Trump, Stewart frequently called Gillespie "Establishment Ed".

Virginia's gubernatorial contest has received widespread national attention as the swing state is one of only two states electing new governors this year.

"I started working at the age of 12 in my family grocery store stocking shelves and sweeping floors and bagging groceries", Gillespie said. He was the epitome of party establishment - a former Republican National Committee chairman - in a state where that still matters.

"I'm so hopeful that this state of Virginia shows up and sends a big message for all Americans" against Trump, said Barbara Jones, 58, an independent undecided voter.

The Democratic governor tweeted that he and his wife, Dorothy, voted Tuesday morning.




Asked if he would support Gillespie in the general election, Smith said: "At most, I will vote for him". Smith viewed the results as a vindication of Trump. "And so I think it's fair to refer to him as a narcissist, because that's what he is".

But Kevin Felty, a Norfolk Republican, said he voted for Gillespie because of his fundraising prowess in what's likely to be a bloody general campaign. They have time - and with a possible win next week in Georgia and in Virginia in November, they may get a shot in the arm from donors and newly recruited candidates anxious to compete against flagging Republicans.

However, the battle between Northam and Perriello was not the only noteworthy development for liberals - grassroots anti-Trump fervor also led to an unprecedented number of Democrats wrangling for seats in Virginia's House of Delegates.

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.).

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.

More than 560,000 people voted in the Democratic primary, a more than 240,000 voter jump from the last time there was contested primary in 2009.

Hyun Lee, 37, of Centreville, Virginia, who had done phone banking and knocked on doors for Northam, was one of the people at the party.

"If I am entrusted with governorship of the Commonwealth we love, I will be an ethical, honest, hard-working, principled Governor", Gillespie continued. "He cares for everyone". She said she was leaning toward voting for Northam in the Democratic primary but liked what she heard from Perriello at his town hall last week in Leesburg.

Perriello pledged in his concession speech to help Northam and said his campaign had shown that a "movement" is "rising up".


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