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Democrats sweep Virginia, New Jersey governor’s races

  • Karina Smith holds her son Kyler Smith, 2, as she fills out her ballot at a polling place Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017, in Alexandria, Va. Republican candidate for Virginia governor Ed Gillespie faces Democrat Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam in Tuesday's election. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon) Alex Brandon

  • FILE - In this Oct. 18, 2017 file photo, Republican nominee Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno talks to reporters after participating in a gubernatorial debate against Democratic nominee Phil Murphy at William Paterson University in Wayne, N.J. Voters in Virginia and New Jersey are picking new governors in contests that could be an early referendum on President Donald Trump. The two gubernatorial elections on Tuesday, Nov. 7, pit two mild-mannered Democrats against two Republicans who have kept the president at arm's length. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez, File) Julio Cortez

  • FILE - In this Oct. 18, 2017, file photo, Democratic nominee Phil Murphy participates in a gubernatorial debate against Republican nominee Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno at William Paterson University, in Wayne, N.J. Voters in Virginia and New Jersey are picking new governors in contests that could be an early referendum on President Donald Trump. The two gubernatorial elections on Tuesday, Nov. 7, pit two mild-mannered Democrats against two Republicans who have kept the president at arm's length. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez, Pool, File) Julio Cortez

  • John Fletcher Snodgrass, 7, left, stands with brother Andrew Snodgrass, 8, and sister Julia Sondgrass 6, as their father Jacob Snodgrass fills out his ballot at a polling place Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017, in Alexandria, Va. Republican candidate for Virginia governor Ed Gillespie faces Democrat Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam in Tuesday's election. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon) Alex Brandon

  • Democratic gubernatorial candidate Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam, and his wife, Pam, approach the vote tally machine as the vote in Norfolk, Va., Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017. Northam faces Republican Ed Gillespie in today's election. (AP Photo/Steve Helber) Steve Helber

  • Volunteers help voters at a polling station in the Society of African Missions in Tenafly, N.J., Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017. Republican Gov. Chris Christie's time atop New Jersey politics enters its final chapter Tuesday as voters go to the polls to elect his successor. Democrat Phil Murphy and Republican Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno are the two major party candidates vying to replace the two-term, term-limited incumbent. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig) Seth Wenig

  • People vote at a polling site in the Flat Rock Brook Nature Center in Englewood, N.J., Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017. Republican Gov. Chris Christie's time atop New Jersey politics enters its final chapter Tuesday as voters go to the polls to elect his successor. Democrat Phil Murphy and Republican Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno are the two major party candidates vying to replace the two-term, term-limited incumbent. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig) Seth Wenig

  • Democratic gubernatorial candidate Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam, and his wife, Pam, right, vote in Norfolk, Va., Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017. Northam faces Republican Ed Gillespie in today's election. (AP Photo/Steve Helber) Steve Helber

  • Republican candidate for Virginia governor Ed Gillespie walks to cast his ballot at his polling place Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017, in Alexandria, Va. Gillespie faces Democrat Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam in Tuesday's election. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon) Alex Brandon

  • Republican candidate for Virginia governor Ed Gillespie pauses while speaking with reporters after voting at his polling place Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017, in Alexandria, Va. Gillespie faces Democrat Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam in Tuesday's election. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon) Alex Brandon

  • Democratic gubernatorial candidate Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam, right, and his wife, Pam, carry their ballots to the tally machine in Norfolk, Va., Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017. Northam faces Republican Ed Gillespie in today's election. (AP Photo/Steve Helber) Steve Helber

  • Democratic gubernatorial candidate Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam, left, gets a hug form a supporter as his wife, Pam, right, looks on after voting in Norfolk, Va., Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017. Northam faces Republican Ed Gillespie in today's election. (AP Photo/Steve Helber) Steve Helber

  • Democratic gubernatorial candidate Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam, walks past yard signs after voting in Norfolk, Va., Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017. Northam faces Republican Ed Gillespie in today's election. (AP Photo/Steve Helber) Steve Helber

  • Democratic gubernatorial candidate Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam, top left, and his wife, Pam, head into the polling station to vote in Norfolk, Va., Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017. Northam faces Republican Ed Gillespie in today's election. (AP Photo/Steve Helber) Steve Helber

  • People cast their vote at a fire house in Teaneck, N.J., Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017. Republican Gov. Chris Christie's time atop New Jersey politics enters its final chapter Tuesday as voters go to the polls to elect his successor. Democrat Phil Murphy and Republican Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno are the two major party candidates vying to replace the two-term, term-limited incumbent. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig) Seth Wenig

  • Voters cast their ballots at the fire house in Teaneck, N.J., Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017. Republican Gov. Chris Christie's time atop New Jersey politics enters its final chapter Tuesday as voters go to the polls to elect his successor. Democrat Phil Murphy and Republican Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno are the two major party candidates vying to replace the two-term, term-limited incumbent. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig) Seth Wenig

  • Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe is interviewed by a reporter at the Northam For Governor election night party at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen) Cliff Owen

  • Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe waits to be interviewed by a reporter at the Northam For Governor election night party at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen) Cliff Owen



Associated Press
Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Voters in Virginia and New Jersey gave Democratic gubernatorial candidates large victories Tuesday and sent a clear message of rebuke to Republican President Donald Trump.

In Virginia’s hard-fought contest, Democratic Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam defeated Republican Ed Gillespie. In New Jersey front-running Democrat Phil Murphy overcame Republican Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno to succeed unpopular GOP Gov. Chris Christie.

The wins in Virginia and New Jersey are a morale boost to Democrats who had so far been unable to channel anti-Trump energy into success at the ballot box in a major election this year.

Roseann Petropoulos said her opposition to Trump led her out in the cold rain in New Jersey to vote for Murphy.

“Trump was huge,” she said. “Because back in the 70s when we got civil rights for people, women’s rights, we have a chance for that to be reversed. It’s scary.”

Virginia college student Tamia Mallory said she began paying attention to her state’s gubernatorial race when she saw tweets from Trump endorsing Gillespie. That motivated her to examine the race and find out who was running against Gillespie, she said.

“It was kind of an anti-Trump vote,” Mallory said.

Northam, the state’s lieutenant governor, repeatedly sought during long months of divisive campaigning to tie Gillespie to the president.

His victory was in large part due to the surge in anti-Trump sentiment since the president took office. Democrats said they had record levels of enthusiasm heading into the race in Virginia, a swing-state and the only Southern state that Trump lost last year.

Gillespie, meanwhile, sought to keep Trump at a distance throughout the campaign but tried to rally the president’s supporters with hard-edge attack ads focused on illegal immigration and preserving Confederate statues. The strategy was criticized by Democrats and some Republicans as race baiting, but drew praise from former Trump strategist Steve Bannon and others as a canny way to win a state that voted for Hillary Clinton last year.

After Tuesday’s loss though, Trump suggested that Gillespie hurt himself by not more closely aligning himself with the president.

“Ed Gillespie worked hard but did not embrace me or what I stand for,” Trump said in a tweet, before pointing out that Republicans have won every special election to the U.S. House since he was elected.

Northam’s victory is a blow to Republicans, who were hoping that Gillespie could provide a possible roadmap for moderate Republicans to follow in next year’s midterm elections. Several Republicans have announced plans to retire next year instead of seeking re-election.

Democrats were gleeful at Northam’s victory party. U.S. Rep. Gerry Connolly called Northam the “perfect antidote” to the president.

“This is a comprehensive victory from the statehouse to the courthouse. Thank you, President Trump,” Connolly said.

In Virginia, Northam’s victory is another sign of the state’s shift toward a more liberal electorate. Democrats have won every statewide election since 2009 and now have won four out of the last five gubernatorial contests. Northam banked heavily during the campaign on his near-perfect political resume and tried to cast himself as the low-key doctor with a strong southern drawl as the antidote to Trump.