Ralph Northam wins Democratic primary for Virginia governor in closely watched race

Virginia Lt. Gov. and Democratic candidate for Governor Ralph Northam left talks with Senate Chief Deputy Clerk Tara Perkinson right prior to the start of the Senate session at the Capitol in Richmond V

Virginia Lt. Gov. and Democratic candidate for Governor Ralph Northam left talks with Senate Chief Deputy Clerk Tara Perkinson right prior to the start of the Senate session at the Capitol in Richmond V

Insurgent Democrat and former Rep. Tom Perriello looked destined for a crushing primary loss against his opponent, Lt. Gov. Ralph S. Northam, in the Virginia state gubernatorial primaries on Tuesday night as the latter politician drew double-digit leads over Perriello with around 90% of the precincts in the state reporting.

Gillespie, a political strategist and former chair of the Republican National Committee, emerged the victor with just over a percentage point. Frank Wagner and Corey Stewart in today's primary.

It took more than three hours after the polls closed at 7 p.m. for The Associated Press to call the race with Mr. Gillespie winning by 1 percentage point, 44 percent to 43 percent. He avoided taking sides in the 2016 primary until early May, when he came out for Trump, and has since tried to keep his distance from the president.

A victory for Northam would be an affirmation of the power of Democratic establishment that's backed him, including Sens. The other state choosing a new chief executive is New Jersey, more often than not a solidly Democratic state.

Democratic Governors Association Chairman Dan Malloy of CT, meanwhile, said in a statment that Northam would "continue Governor McAuliffe's work of growing the economy, fighting for the middle class and protecting Virginians' health care".

"There is one word you will never hear from me, and that's unity", Stewart said in his campaign. Elizabeth Warren of MA and Independent Bernie Sanders of Vermont endorsed Perriello, but Northam dominated in state leadership endorsements.

To overcome Northam's institutional advantages, Perriello needed a turnout surge among voters who don't usually show up in off years, particularly younger progressives and African-Americans.

On Tuesday, he barely defeated Stewart, a former Trump state campaign chairman who made preserving Virginia's Confederate history a top campaign issue.

Norfolk resident Andrew Patton was one voter drawn to Stewart, who briefly served as Trump's campaign chairman in Virginia before he was sacked from the post.

Virginia voters picked their parties' nominees for governor, lieutenant governor and dozens of House of Delegates races on Tuesday, plus local contests in some areas. That's the type of enthusiasm Democrats have been banking on to build a midterm election backlash to Trump, and the 2017 Virginia race will be a critical test of whether they can do that.

Gillespie's GOP ticket-mate will be State Senator Jill Holtzman Vogel of Fauquier County. A total of five candidates are running to be Virginia's next governor.

"We are hoping for the best but know, no matter what, we will be a united party tomorrow headed to victory in November", Perriello said.

Also a former federal prosecutor, Fairfax has said he would be focused on creating economic opportunity and security for the middle class by helping small businesses thrive and expanding workforce development for what he calls "middle-skill" jobs that require more than a high school diploma but not a college degree.

Both locally and statewide, Tuesday's primary results showcase serious conditions for Republicans in the 2017 elections.

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - President Donald Trump had an outsized effect on Virginia's primary contests for governor, but not in the ways most people expected. And turnout in the Democratic primary far outpaced the Republican side.

Perriello entered the race long after Northam had locked up the backing of the state's party establishment and banked on his campaign drawing in younger voters and people of color who don't typically vote during statewide primaries.

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