June 28, 2017

Ralph Northam wins nomination; GOP race too close to call

14 June 2017, 07:49 | Grady King

A primary contest in Virginia offers clues to the future of the Democrats

'A candidate . . . for you'

For Democrats, the race had been framed as a reboot of the Bernie Sanders-Hillary Clinton contest. Polls have shown that Perriello has a slight lead in the race, but that lead may be contingent on unreliable pools of voters who usually sit primaries out.

The June 20 Georgia special congressional election will offer an early reading on the Democrats' ability to rebound from 2016 and make 2018 gains. Northam has emphasized his biography - rural upbringing, Army veteran, and pediatric neurologist - as well as his bona fides with key progressive groups that make up the Democratic base. Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam is banking on a cerebral appeal, saying he'll also stand up to Trump but will work with state Republicans to move a progressive agenda forward.

Virginia also has an increased national focus on its race as one of two states, along with New Jersey, with elections in the year following presidential elections. Northam had always been considered the Democrats' successor to Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who's prohibited by law from running for a second term. Warner, Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Sen.

Then, McAuliffe linked hands with Kaine, Warner and Northam, and they raised them high - three men who had held the governor's office with a fourth looking to join them. He was expected to cruise through the primary season but was challenged by a surprise run from Perriello beginning in January of this year. As a Republican candidate, many in-party voters and opponents are questioning why he has never quite fully addressed Trump on his campaign trail. He gave a fiery victory speech Tuesday, vowing to win over Perriello supporters and lead Democrats in retaking control of the state House of Delegates in the general election. His aspiration is to grant equal opportunities for all candidates by banning the use of personal campaign funds, livestreaming many statewide meetings and establishing a process for accepting gifts, although his ultimate goal is to ban receiving gifts because he believes that this will help the government establish full disclosure and integrity. The Republican candidates are former GOP strategist Ed Gillespie, Prince William Board of County Supervisors Chairman Corey A. Stewart and state Sen.

Associated Press reporters Ben Finley in Norfolk and Alanna Durkin Richer in Richmond contributed to this report.

Voters are heading to the polls throughout Virginia to nominate candidates to be on the November ballot for governor and lieutenant governor.

Two Democratic candidates are seeking the governor's office.

Updated | The Virginia gubernatorial race is proving to be a fascinating proxy for national trends as an ally of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren was defeated on Tuesday, and a Trump-style nationalist came close to defeating the mainstream, better financed Republican front runner. To check your registration status, go to the state Department of Elections website,, where you can also find your poll location.

JOHN CLISHAM: The party does seem to have two very distinct groups right now vying for - what? - people's affection or ideas.

Nearly every profile of the Perriello-Northam race cast the former as the progressive, populist outsider insurgent and the latter as the moderate, centrist creature of the establishment.

"We're going to be making a lot of house calls in Virginia to win this thing in November", Democratic Party Chairman Tom Perez added. Perriello asked, referencing a policy he and Northam support but Republicans in the legislature oppose.

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