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Voters Rebuff Trump In VA And NJ Gubernatorial Races
Democratic gubernatorial candidates were handed huge victories on Tuesday as New Jersey, and Virginia voters sent a clear message of rebuke toward Republican President Donald Trump.
Virginia’s hard-fought contest resulted in a win for Democratic Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam, who defeated Republican Ed Gillespie. In New Jersey, front-running Democrat Phil Murphy trounced Republican Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno to succeed unpopular GOP Gov. Chris Christie.
“Virginia has told us to end the divisiveness, that we do not condone hatred and bigotry,” Northam said.
“The days of division are over. We will move forward,” Murphy said in his victory speech, invoking Trump by name as he looked headed for a double-digit win. Murphy, who earned a fortune at Goldman Sachs before serving as Barack Obama’s ambassador to Germany, delivered his address in the same spot as Christie in his 2013 re-election— after Christie won big over his Democratic rival.
“The people are gonna rise up. They’re not gonna take what he says and this is not fake news,” said Leanna Barnes, a 76-year-old from East Orange, New Jersey, who voted for Murphy and called his victory a message to the president.
Virginia college student Tamia Mallory said she began paying attention to her state’s gubernatorial race when she saw tweets from Trump endorsing Gillespie. That motivated her to examine the track and find out who was running against Gillespie, she said.
“It was kind of an anti-Trump vote,” Mallory said.
Trump lent limited pre-election support to Gillespie with robocalls and tweets.
In one call, Trump said Gillespie shared his views on immigration and crime and would help “Make America Great Again.” Trump also said Northam would be a “total disaster” for Virginia.
But after Tuesday’s loss, Trump suggested that Gillespie hurt himself by not more closely aligning himself with the president.
“Ed Gillespie worked hard but did not embrace me or what I stand for,” Trump said in a tweet after Northam won. He also pointed out that Republicans have won every special election to the U.S. House since he was elected.
Ed Gillespie worked hard but did not embrace me or what I stand for. Don’t forget, Republicans won 4 out of 4 House seats, and with the economy doing record numbers, we will continue to win, even bigger than before!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 8, 2017
Northam’s victory is a blow to Republicans, who were hoping that Gillespie could provide a possible roadmap for moderate Republicans to follow in next year’s midterm elections. Several Republicans have announced plans to retire next year instead of seeking re-election, and Gillespie loss may prompt more such announcements.
Gillespie supporter Elsa Smith said Republicans needed to do a better job of appealing to minorities if they want to win future races.
“We are not taking care of the demographics the way we should,” said Smith, an owner of a Spanish translation business.
Democrats were gleeful at Northam’s victory party. U.S. Rep. Gerry Connolly called Northam the “perfect antidote” to the president.
“This is a comprehensive victory from the statehouse to the courthouse. Thank you, President Trump,” Connolly said.
The Democratic victories are another sign of Virginia’s shift toward a more liberal electorate. Democrats have won every statewide election since 2009 and now have won four out of the last five gubernatorial contests.