Thursday July 9th, 2020 1:40AM

Ed Gillespie wins GOP nomination, will face Northam

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Virginia Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam won the Democratic nomination in the closely watched race for governor Tuesday, defeating a more liberal insurgent challenger in a contest to be one of the party's standard-bearers against President Donald Trump.

Northam will face Ed Gillespie in the general election. The former Republican National Committee chairman eked out an uncomfortably close victory against an outspoken Trump supporter who made preserving Virginia's Confederate history a top campaign issue.

Although the Democratic contest garnered the most pre-election attention, Gillespie's narrow victory against former Trump state campaign chairman Corey Stewart provided the night's biggest surprise. Gillespie was expected to win easily, and the close contest shows Trump's enduring appeal among GOP voters in Virginia and a potentially rocky path forward for Republicans in a state where Democrats have won every statewide election since 2009.

Northam wound up handily defeating former U.S. Rep. Tom Perriello, who ran as an unapologetic liberal crusader supported by prominent national Democrats like Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren as the best candidate to take on Trump.

Northam, a usually low-key pediatric neurologist, won running as a pragmatist with the state Democratic establishment's firm support. 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.

"It is time for us to get back on offense and stop playing so much defense," Northam said.

The general election is expected to be an early referendum on the president and a preview of what the 2018 midterm elections will look like. Virginia is one of only two states electing new governors this year, and the swing-state contest is likely to draw intense national scrutiny for signs of how voters are reacting to Trump's first year in office.

At Northam's event in Arlington, there were cheers and high fives as news spread that he had been declared the victor.

Hyun Lee, 37, of Centreville, Virginia, who had done phone banking and knocked on doors for Northam, was one of the people at the party.

"I trust his leadership. I trust his dedication to all Virginians," Lee said of Northam. "He cares for everyone."

Perriello made a surprise entrance into the race in January and faced an uphill climb from the beginning. 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.

Perriello pledged in his concession speech to help Northam and said his campaign had shown that a "movement" is "rising up."

"I don't know about you, but I'm inspired to keep fighting tonight," Perriello said.

Northam essentially had been campaigning for years, making key contacts with influential power brokers like prominent African-American politicians and religious leaders, and building up a large cash advantage that let him outspend Perriello on TV advertising in the closing weeks of the race.

In the Republican race, Gillespie enjoyed a huge fundraising advantage against Stewart and state Sen. Frank Wagner as well as the support of most state Republican lawmakers. Gillespie ran largely on pocketbook issues, like lowering the state income tax rate, but kept Trump at arm's length.

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. Felty, a 48-year-old surgical assistant, said a GOP victory in Virginia would wrestle back the "narrative being touted in the mainstream media that the Democrats are gaining traction" under Trump.

"I see this as the midterm of the midterms," said Felty, who voted for Trump and remains steadfast in his support. "I think it has bigger consequences than people imagine."

At his victory party, Gillespie joked that he'd been fiscally prudent by not spending any more than was necessary to win the primary and asked the supporters of Stewart and Wagner to get behind him.

"We want you to be part of our effort," Gillespie said, adding that Virginia cannot afford another four years with a Democrat as governor.

But it's unclear how much Stewart supporters will rally behind Gillespie. Stewart repeatedly blasted the former Washington lobbyist as a product of the "swamp" Trump had pledged to drain, and said Tuesday evening that he's against party unity for unity's sake.

"There's one word you will never hear from me and that's 'unity.' Because look, folks, we've been backing down too long ... in defense of our culture, our heritage and our country," said Stewart, who did not immediately concede.

Isaac Smith, 21, of Charlottesville, who campaigned for Stewart, said Stewart's showing was "remarkable" given the fact that he was badly outspent. Smith viewed the results as a vindication of Trump.

Asked if he would support Gillespie in the general election, Smith said: "At most, I will vote for him. I will not campaign for him."


Associated Press reporters Ben Finley in Norfolk, Jessica Gresko in Arlington, Matthew Barakat in Woodbridge and Alanna Durkin Richer in Richmond contributed to this report.

  • Associated Categories: U.S. News, Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top U.S. News short headlines, Top General short headlines, AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News, AP Elections, General Election News, AP Elections - Campaigns
© Copyright 2020
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Ed Gillespie wins GOP nomination, will face Northam
Ralph Northam has won the Democratic nomination in Virginia's closely watched race for governor, defeating an insurgent challenger backed by U.S. Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren
10:52PM ( 4 minutes ago )
10 Things to Know for Wednesday
Among 10 Things to Know: AG Sessions pushes back against detractors; North Korea frees American college student; Georgia inmates kill guards, flee in carjacked vehicle.
10:47PM ( 8 minutes ago )
Rodman begins sightseeing on NKorea trip he hopes opens door
Dennis Rodman, one of the only Americans to ever meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, began sightseeing in Pyongyang after saying he hoped his trip would maybe "open a door" for Donald Trump
10:41PM ( 14 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Southern Baptists wrestle with tensions over Trump election
The Southern Baptist Convention, home to prominent evangelical supporters of President Donald Trump, adopted a statement on moral leadership at the group's annual meeting that avoided pointed criticism of current political officeholders
10:06PM ( 50 minutes ago )
Jury in Bill Cosby sex assault case adjourns without verdict
The jury has wrapped up a second day of deliberations without reaching a verdict in the Bill Cosby sexual assault trial
9:56PM ( 59 minutes ago )
No longer out of bounds: Trump allies question Mueller probe
Some of President Donald Trump's closest allies have begun questioning whether special counsel Robert Mueller's wide-ranging probe is becoming too political, as the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election intensifies
9:49PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP National News
Jury in Bill Cosby sex assault case scrutinizes his words
The jury in the Bill Cosby sexual assault case is scrutinizing his prior testimony as it deliberates charges that he drugged and molested a woman in 2004
8:51PM ( 2 hours ago )
The Latest: Bill Cosby jury putting in long day's work
The jury in the Bill Cosby trial is putting in a long day's work as it considers sexual assault charges against the comedian
8:44PM ( 2 hours ago )
Coast Guard ship will linger in century-old watery grave
On the 100th anniversary of a Coast Guard ship's disappearance, the agency says it found the shipwreck off Southern California and plan to leave it there
8:34PM ( 2 hours ago )
Top U.S. News short headlines
The Latest: Mattis to decide troop levels in Afghanistan
Several U.S. officials say President Donald Trump has given his defense secretary the authority to make decisions on U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan, amid repeated calls from commanders for more forces
8:41PM ( 2 hours ago )
Sessions heatedly denies improper Russia contacts
Attorney General Jeff Sessions denies 'false and scurrilous allegations' about his contacts with Russian official in a dramatic appearance before the Senate Intelligence Committee.
7:39PM ( 3 hours ago )
AP sources: Trump tells senators House health bill 'mean'
Congressional sources say President Donald Trump has told Republican senators that the House health care bill is "mean" and that the Senate version should be "more generous."
7:11PM ( 3 hours ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
Tillerson warns against steps that cut off talks with Russia
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson withheld judgment on a new Russia sanctions package while cautioning against taking steps that might close off promising avenues of communication between the two former Cold War foes
5:53PM ( 5 hours ago )
Trump transition aide did not disclose role in Turkish work
A business partner of former national security adviser Michael Flynn took part in hiring and policy discussions as a member of President Donald Trump's transition without disclosing that he previously conducted political work for Flynn's Turkish client
5:31PM ( 5 hours ago )
Tillerson faces strong pushback on diplomatic budget cuts
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson faced harsh bipartisan criticism on Tuesday as he tried to defend the Trump administration's proposed slashing of America's diplomatic and foreign aid budget to deeply skeptical lawmakers
5:26PM ( 5 hours ago )
AP Online Congress News
The Latest: Sessions recused self over Trump campaign ties
Sessions says he recused himself from Russia probe because of his own ties to Trump campaign
3:26PM ( 7 hours ago )
The Latest: Sessions contradicts Comey on Trump exchange
Sessions contradicts Comey on conversation about never being alone with Trump
3:14PM ( 7 hours ago )
The Latest: Sessions denies 3rd meeting with Russians
Attorney General Jeff Sessions says he did not have third meeting with the Russian ambassador to the United States.
3:05PM ( 7 hours ago )
AP Elections
Preliminary results: Ex-rebels win Kosovo election
The coalition of former ethnic Albanian rebel commanders has won the most votes in Kosovo's general election, which also saw a surge in popularity for a nationalist party, according to preliminary results
5:00PM ( 2 days ago )
The Latest: Kosovo election turnout at 41.79 percent
Kosovo's election authorities say that preliminary figures put turnout in the country's general election at 41.79 percent
3:02PM ( 2 days ago )
Kosovo votes amid thorny issues of border, talks with Serbia
Kosovo has voted in an early general election dominated by thorny issues including a border demarcation deal with Montenegro that brought down the previous government
1:35PM ( 2 days ago )
General Election News
10 Things to Know for Wednesday
Among 10 Things to Know: AG Sessions pushes back against detractors; North Korea frees American college student; Georgia inmates kill guards, flee in carjacked vehicle.
10:47PM ( 9 minutes ago )
Rodman begins sightseeing on NKorea trip he hopes opens door
Dennis Rodman, one of the only Americans to ever meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, began sightseeing in Pyongyang after saying he hoped his trip would maybe "open a door" for Donald Trump
10:41PM ( 14 minutes ago )
North Korea frees American student; parents say he's in coma
A U.S. university student has arrived in Ohio from North Korea, where he was serving a 15-year prison term for alleged anti-state acts
10:32PM ( 23 minutes ago )
The Latest: Student released by North Korea arrives in Ohio
US university student arives in Ohio from North Korea, where he was serving a 15-year prison term for alleged anti-state acts
10:25PM ( 31 minutes ago )
LEADING OFF: Rizzo up 1st, Bellinger on 1st, Santana starts
LEADING OFF: Rizzo up 1st; Bellinger on 1st; Santana faces Mariners; Volquez on a roll
10:25PM ( 31 minutes ago )