Polls to open for primary elections across Virginia

Henrietta Strickland
June 23, 2017

On the Democratic side, Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam, a fierce critic of President Donald Trump's, was projected to win the party nomination - with more than 55 percent of the vote - over Tom Perriello. Both candidates have pledged fierce opposition to Trump and his policies. Despite the call, Gillespie never did so, citing Ronald Reagan's apocryphal eleventh commandment to not attack fellow Republicans, and congratulated him and fellow challenger State Senator Tom Wagner on a hard-fought campaign.

Virginia is one of only two states electing new governors this year, and the contest could serve as a preview to 2018's midterm elections.

Governor Ralph Northam defeated a liberal insurgent candidate to win his state's Democratic nomination for Governor. The former Republican National Committee chairman eked out an uncomfortably close victory against an outspoken Trump supporter who made preserving Virginia's Confederate history a top campaign issue.

Perriello had the backing of a host of national progressive leaders including Sens. Ed Gillespie, a more traditional conservative, has called for across the board tax cuts.

In the most crowded Democratic primary, four candidates faced off for the chance to take on Del. Democrats can only hope to ward off an outcome that they hate.

In the Republican primary, Gillespie beat Stewart 44 percent to 42 percent with Frank Wagner earning 14 percent of the vote.

Northam accumulated those chits during a decade in Democratic politics, starting with his election to the Virginia Senate in 2007.

All in all, while both parties' establishment candidates won, the night held surprises on both sides and is leaving political insiders scrambling to find explanations for the results.

"I'm the only person in this race that's been a Democrat my whole life", Perriello said at a forum in May.

That could be a problem for Periello, whose profile is less that of state politician than megaphone for the Trump-era angst of the national party. Northam, meanwhile, focused more on state issues and highlighted the support of almost every elected Democratic leader in the state, including Gov. Terry McAuliffe.

A few blocks away, Northam supporter Hazel Rigby is running a phone-banking operation out of her house near City Hall.

"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.

The Perriello-Northam race between has been closely watched by Democrats across the country. Elizabeth Warren and heavily bankrolled by Democratic super donors George Soros and Donald Sussman.

But a primary challenge from the right has forced Gillespie into some uncomfortable territory as he would much rather look ahead to the general election.

Some viewed the close battle as a pitting of the Sanders wing of the party, as channeled by Perriello, against the Clinton wing of the party, represented by Northam.

A win for Perriello could have national consequences.

A victory for Northam would be an affirmation of the power of Democratic establishment that's backed him, including Sens.

Democrat Justin Fairfax and Republican state Sen. But like Perriello, Northam has been unsparing in criticism of Trump, calling him a "narcissistic maniac". While Gillespie had his stronghold in Fairfax County, Stewart scored big in Loudon County, Prince William County as well as rural central and southwest regions of the state.

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. Gillespie is a former RNC chair and the former head of the Virginia GOP.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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