Edward Gillespie wins Virginia's GOP primary for governor

Republican gubernatorial candidates Corey Stewart left state Sen. Frank Wagner center and Ed Gillespie right participate in a Tea Party debate at Goochland High School in Goochland Va. The thre

RICHMOND-Ed Gillespie eked out an uncomfortably close victory in Virginia's Republican primary for governor Tuesday while Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam cruised to the Democratic nomination.

Gillespie had 43.7 percent of the vote, compared with Stewart's 42.5 percent at 10:40 p.m., with 99.8 percent of precincts reporting.

Former state Sen. Frank Wager was running in a distant third, according to the election reports.

While Stewart did not immediately concede the election, Gillespie declared victory at an election night party at his Richmond campaign headquarters. Are we ready to keep Virginia blue?.

"We're waiting back there because we really don't know how it's going to turn out, the final numbers", he said.

Perriello had the backing of a host of national progressive leaders including Sens. Elizabeth Warren championed Perriello.

"There is one word you will never hear from me, and that's unity", Stewart says. He also promised to reduce economic inequality. Both supported increasing the minimum wage and decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana.

"When Tom Perriello entered the race a few months ago, nobody expected a competitive race", Stephanie Taylor, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Commitee and a senior adviser to Perriello, wrote to Mic in a statement. "We could not have a more important election on our hands", he told his cheering supporters. "This is the bellwether of the country", he said in his victory speech.

Frank Von Richter said he voted for Northam because he likes that the lieutenant governor is more "middle of the road" than Perriello and thinks he will work better with a Republican-controlled General Assembly.

"I didn't win this battle, but we're not done", he said.

His voice quivering a bit, he paid tribute to his late mother and 92-year-old father.

The biggest surprise was on the Republican side. Stewart has tried to overcome his campaign's financial disadvantage by continually courting controversy, notably with a full-throated defense of Virginia's Confederate history and monuments.

Gillespie's strength in Fairfax County seemed to be providing the edge as final returns came trickling in.

Stewart is chairman of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors. "Today's primary concludes a nasty race to the left by Democrats, while Virginia Republicans emerge unified and ready to win".

"I'm shocked", said Nancy Russell, who was Hanover County chairwoman when Gillespie ran for Senate in 2014.

She managed to win the Democratic nomination to challenge Del.

"All the national money and national attention will be coming this way", he said.

Meanwhile, state Democrats are already crowing about their massive advantage in turnout for the primary - almost 543,000 people voted on the Democratic side, compared to about 366,000 for Republicans. The other is New Jersey, which held its primary last week, electing Phil Murphy as the Democratic nominee and Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno as the Republican nominee.

"I can't recall any of the issues, I hate to admit", he said.

Some Democrats said they were motivated by Trump's presidency to vote Tuesday. He won't, however, be doing it as governor of Virginia. In November, she will Justin Fairfax, an attorney from northern Virginia, who won the Democratic nomination.

Even before the primary, the Virginia election emerged as a swing-state referendum on Trump, who was defeated here by Hillary Clinton last November by 5 percentage points and remains deeply unpopular. He cast himself as an unapologetic liberal and front-line warrior in the resistance to Trump and has been endorsed by Sen. Republican Ed Gillespie, who had led by double digits in polling, won by slightly more than 1 percent. "I will not campaign for him".

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