Trump affects Virginia primaries, but not as expected

Trump affects Virginia primaries, but not as expected

With 100 percent of precincts reporting in the election on Tuesday, the elections agency said Gillespie received 160,039 votes, or 43.71 percent of votes, while his main competitor, Corey A. Stewart, the former co-chairman of Donald Trump's campaign in Virginia, received 155,716 votes, or 42.53 percent of votes.

Republican candidate for governor, Ed Gillespie (R) talks with Republican Lt. Gov. candidate Glenn Davis (L) at a polling place on June 13, 2017 in Richmond, Virginia.

The gubernatorial race in Virginia, the only state other than New Jersey electing a new governor this year, is seen as a key test of President Donald Trump's popularity ahead of the 2018 mid-term elections for the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.

As for the Democratic candidates, the race has come down to two candidates - Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam and former congressman Tom Perriello.

The Democratic Party already is hoping to capitalize on Trump's low approval ratings in the state and show a united front with a rally today at George Mason University that will be attended by Northam and Perriello as well as Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez. He energized many new-to-politics voters who oppose Trump but was ultimately unable to expand the universe of Democratic primary voters enough to counter Northam's advantages.

Stewart also gained attention during the primary campaign for his defense of Confederate monuments.

Northam's state-party backing beat Perriello's national support.

"If I am entrusted with governorship of the Commonwealth we love, I will be an ethical, honest, hard-working, principled Governor", Gillespie continued. As the centerpiece of his campaign, Gillespie is proposing reducing the income tax rate that most Virginians pay from 5.75 percent to 5.15 percent over three years as long as revenues grow.

Stewart, the chairman of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors, became known for what the Washington Post described as a "Confederate-centric bid."

A victory for Northam would be an affirmation of the power of Democratic establishment that's backed him, including Sens. Perriello's last-minute entry into the race earlier this year forced Northam to ratchet up his campaign much sooner than expected to take on Perriello's challenge from his left flank.

As it is, Stewart proved it is very hard to move too far to the right for a primary in today's GOP.

"I think he has the ability to move Virginia forward like McAuliffe has", the 80-year-old said. A total of five candidates are running to be Virginia's next governor. Channeling Trump, Stewart frequently called Gillespie "Establishment Ed".

Annandale resident and former USA attorney Justin Fairfax won the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor with 49 percent of the vote.

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.

Kevin Felty, a Norfolk Republican, said he voted for Gillespie because of his fundraising prowess in what's likely to be a bloody general campaign. Our fight to put Virginia on the right track is only just beginning.

However, the battle between Northam and Perriello was not the only noteworthy development for liberals - grassroots anti-Trump fervor also led to an unprecedented number of Democrats wrangling for seats in Virginia's House of Delegates.

Northam says he's running for governor "to build on Virginia's economic progress and defend our values against those who want to take us back".