Political News

Polls close in Virginia gubernatorial primaries

Posted June 13

Polls have closed Tuesday evening in the Virginia gubernatorial primary races.

Competition has been fierce on the Democratic side, with Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam facing off against former congressman Tom Perriello, while the Republican contest has largely been dominated by Ed Gillespie.

Tuesday's elections marked the first time both parties held contests on the same day in the commonwealth's history.

A fierce fight

For Democrats, the race had been framed as a reboot of the Bernie Sanders-Hillary Clinton contest.

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.

But the comparison was never a perfect fit. Northam had pushed his campaign further to the left and has described Trump as a narcissistic maniac -- while Perriello instead attempted to reach out to Trump voters by selling a message of economic populism framed through a progressive perspective.

Both the Democratic and Republican contests feature established candidates with lengthy political careers facing off against insurgent, populist candidates hoping to upset the power bases of their respective parties.

On the Republican side, former George W. Bush aide Gillespie campaigned off the goodwill he established with Republicans after his narrow loss to Democratic Sen. Mark Warner in 2014. Gillespie worked to tiptoe around the presence of Trump, embracing his policies that are popular with Republicans without directly tying his campaign to the President.

Gillespie basically ignored his competition, flame-throwing chair of the Prince William County Board of Supervisors Corey Stewart, and the strategy seemed to work. Most polls showed Gillespie with a double-digit lead before Election Day.

A third candidate, State Sen. Frank Wagner, has struggled to gain traction, despite winning the endorsement of The Washington Post's editorial board.


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