CNN Election 11/07/17: Ed Gillespie Loses In Virginia: Phil Murphy Wins In NJ As Democrats Win Both
Washington (CNN)Democratic Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam has won the Virginia governor’s race, CNN projects, defeating Republican Ed Gillespie.
Northam’s win is a huge boost for Democrats desperate for their first swing state victory during President Donald Trump’s tenure in office. It comes amid what looks like a blue wave along the East Coast, with Democrat Phil Murphy also winning the governor’s race in New Jersey and a swath of northern Virginia state legislative seats on course to flip into Democratic hands.
Northam overcame a Trump-style television advertising barrage from Gillespie, whose ads accused him of being soft on MS-13 gangs by voting against a bill banning sanctuary cities. Gillespie also echoed Trump’s calls to keep Confederate monuments in place.
Murphy’s Garden State win will return the state to Democratic control after eight years under the leadership Republican Gov. Chris Christie.
Murphy defeated Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno in a state where Christie’s unpopularity — with approval ratings in the teens, making him the least-liked governor in the country — proved too much to overcome.
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Northam went into the day to capitalize on a surge in voter turnout in Virginia’s northern suburbs near Washington and deliver the party its first big win in the Trump era. Gillespie, a former lobbyist and George W. Bush aide, was attempting to show Republicans who had previously kept their distance from Trump a way to embrace the President’s policies on the campaign trail.
Elsewhere in the country, New York City, Atlanta and other cities are electing mayors. And in Utah, voters will select a replacement for the retired former Rep. Jason Chaffetz.
Gillespie has mimicked Trump’s tactics — attacking Northam over sanctuary cities while saying he would not remove Confederate Civil War monuments. A Gillespie mailer also referenced the controversy over protests by NFL players. “You’d never take a knee … so take a stand on Election Day,” the mailer reads.
But he has kept personal distance from Trump: The two didn’t campaign together at all, despite Trump visiting his own golf course in Virginia 15 times after Gillespie won the Republican nomination.
Republicans nationally are closely watching to see if Gillespie’s approach works or whether he got too close to Trump for suburban voters’ comfort, or strayed too far away from the President to win over his rural, white base.
Election 2017: Readers' guide to Virginia and New Jersey governor's races, other key contests
Election 2017: Readers’ guide to Virginia and New Jersey governor’s races, other key contests
Northam, meanwhile, has struggled to motivate the black voters who make up the Democratic base. Former President Barack Obama urged Democrats not to get “complacent” in non-presidential elections during an October rally with Northam in Richmond.
Preliminary exit polls found that Gillespie’s focus on keeping Confederate monuments in place could be popular with Virginia voters — particularly Republicans and independents. Ninety-five percent of Republicans said the monuments should remain in place, and nearly eight in 10 independents agreed. Meanwhile, about seven in 10 Democrats said the statues should be removed.
Helping Northam, though, could be Trump’s 43% approval rating among those who voted, according to the preliminary exit polls. Fifty-five percent of Virginia voters said they disapprove of how Trump is handling his job.
The Virginia race carries national importance as a gauge of how voters are reacting to Trump a year into his presidency — and also because the state is a proving ground for both parties’ approaches in the 2018 midterm elections, when Democrats hope to take control of the House and Republicans seek to expand their 52-48 Senate majority.
The election takes place with Trump overseas on a 13-day Asia trip. The President had thrown his political capital heavily behind Sen. Luther Strange in an Alabama Republican Senate primary in September — but Strange lost to former judge Roy Moore, and Trump has been much less involved in subsequent races, although he continues to tweet to help Gillespie.
Donald J. Trump ✔@realDonaldTrump
The state of Virginia economy, under Democrat rule, has been terrible. If you vote Ed Gillespie tomorrow, it will come roaring back!
5:12 PM – Nov 6, 2017
12,963 12,963 Replies 20,061 20,061 Retweets 74,504 74,504 likes
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