Sunday, 25 June, 2017

Northam wins Democratic nomination for governor

Democrats redefining their party in state races Candidates for governor run on different priorities
Jon Howard | 14 June, 2017, 06:49

As for the Democratic candidates, the race has come down to two candidates - Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam and former congressman Tom Perriello. Both candidates have pledged fierce opposition to Trump and his policies.

Polls in Tuesday's primary races are open until 7 p.m.

The GOP primary is thought by most observers to be a less competitive affair, with former RNC chairman Ed Gillespie - who became a national GOP rock star in 2014 by very almost upsetting Senator Mark Warner - dominating fundraising and endorsements against fiery Trumpite county supervisor chairman Corey Stewart and Hampton Roads legislator Frank Wagner.

"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. "I voted for Democratic presidential candidates".

"If we don't speak up and let people know how we feel by our votes, then we are subject to somebody else telling us what to do", one man said.

Democrats are hopeful that trend will carry through to November.

On the Republican side, front-runner Ed Gillespie, a moderate Washington insider, is trying to fend off under-funded but spirited campaigns from avid Trump supporter Corey Stewart and state Sen.

Virginia Democrats, a key chunk of the electorate, will pick one of these candidates as a standard-bearer. New Jersey is the only other state holding a gubernatorial contest this year.

Northam is a more traditional candidate who stresses his pragmatic approach and ability to work with Republicans. Meanwhile, Northam, the current lieutenant governor, is being supported by every elected Democrat in the executive or legislative branches of government in the Old Dominion. The retired Richmond resident said Northam is strong on issues like education and health care and will continue Gov. Terry McAuliffe's efforts to bring more jobs to Virginia.

"I do feel it's important for people to understand that we are there to serve the objective of the commonwealth and to serve our citizens, not for any personal gain, and I don't want anyone having any doubts about that", Gillespie said.

Among the Obama veterans to line up behind Perriello were 2008 campaign manager David Plouffe and former White House Communications Director Jennifer Palmieri, who more recently served as a top aide on Hillary Clinton's 2016 campaign.

Perriello is touting his progressive credentials and has the support of the Vermont senator as well as Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and bankrolled by Democratic super donors George Soros and Donald Sussman. Trump's approval among Virginians was at just 36 percent in an April Quinnipiac University Poll, and last November he lost the state by six points.

Northam, a well-liked pediatric neurologist, had a head start on the trail and in money raised. You would normally expect the nationally focused Perriello to have an advantage in the nationally focused D.C. suburbs.

A victory for Northam would be an affirmation of the power of Democratic establishment that's backed him, including Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine. Gillespie was heavily favored to win the Republican nomination heading into Tuesday evening. "Northam, a doctor, has upped his attacks on Trump, calling the President a "'narcissistic maniac" in an ad last month. Former Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie had been expected to cruise to an easy win.

In terms of tax rates, Gillespie believes that Virginia's tax plan is antiquated - Virginia's income tax has not been cut since 1972.

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