Ralph Northam wins Democratic nomination for governor

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Ralph Northam wins Democratic nomination for governor
Ralph Northam wins Democratic nomination for governor

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) – Virginia’s establishment-favored lieutenant governor 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.

Ralph Northam defeated 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.

The three-way Republican primary remains too close to call. 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.

Northam, a low-key pediatric neurologist, won running as a pragmatist with state’s Democratic establishment’s firm support. He has also vowed to fight Trump, but with pledges to work with state Republican lawmakers on issues like a tax overhaul.

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.

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. The retired Richmond resident said Northam is strong on issues like education and health care and will continue Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s efforts to bring more jobs to Virginia.

“I think he has the ability to move Virginia forward like McAuliffe has,” the 80-year-old said.

McAuliffe, who, like U.S. Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine of Virginia, backed Northam, is barred from seeking a consecutive term.

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 and promised to support a grab-bag of progressive policies, like raising taxes on the wealthy, using public funds for political campaigns or mandating union membership.

Although he received a large amount of attention and praise from prominent national Democrats, Perriello was ultimately unable to expand the universe of Democratic primary voters enough to counter Northam’s advantages.

Northam had been essentially 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.

Northam’s campaign ran a more traditional campaign focused heavily on his biography – rural upbringing, Army veteran, pediatric neurologist – as well as his endorsements from key progressive groups that make up the Democratic base like teachers and abortion-rights groups.

He will face the winner of the Republican primary between former Republican National Committee Ed Gillespie, former Trump state campaign chairman Corey Stewart and state Sen. Frank Wagner.

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

John Carr of Winchester, Va. walks into his polling place Tuesday, June 13, 2017, to vote in the Virginia Primary Election where a Republican and Democratic candidate for governor and lieutenant governor will be chosen. Virginia is one of two states electing governors this year. (Jeff Taylor/The Winchester Star via AP)
Republican candidate for governor, Ed Gillespie, right, talks with Republican Lt. Gov. candidate Glenn Davis, left, at a polling place Tuesday, June 13, 2017, in Richmond, Va. Gillespie faces State Sen. Frank Wagner and Corey Stewart in today’s primary. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
Virginia Republican gubernatorial hopeful Ed Gillespie greets voters mid-afternoon at the polls at Glen Allen High School, near Richmond, Va., on primary day across the state on Tuesday June 13, 2017. Gillespie is facing two challengers for the party nomination. (Joe Mahoney/Richmond Times-Dispatch via AP)
Democratic candidate for governor and former congressman Tom Perriello, center talks with voter Roberta Dorr, right, outside a polling place Tuesday, June 13, 2017, in North Chesterfield, Va. Perriello faces Lt. Gov Ralph Northam faces in today’s primary. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
Democratic candidate for governor, former congressman Tom Perriello, left, talks with Gretchen Craig of Chesterfield, outside a polling place Tuesday, June 13, 2017, in North Chesterfield, Va. Perriello faces Lt. Gov Ralph Northam faces in today’s primary. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
Democratic candidate for governor, Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam greets voters at a canvas kickoff Tuesday, June 13, 2017, in Chesterfield, Va. Lt. Gov Ralph Northam faces former Congressman Tom Perriello in today’s primary. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam, Democrat running for governor, greets voters and supporters at the Larchmont Elementary School polling place on Election Day in Norfolk on Tuesday, June 13, 2017. Northam faces a primary against former Rep. Tom Perriello. (Stephen M. Katz/The Virginian-Pilot via AP)
Kelly Barrows stands outside a polling place in Richmond’s Church Hill neighborhood, where she cast her vote for Tom Perriello for governor on Tuesday, June 13, 2017. Barrows, a 29-year old restaurant manager, says the former congressman more closely aligns with her progressive views. (AP Photo/Alanna Durkin Richer)
Frank Von Richter poses for a photo outside a polling place in Richmond, Va., on Tuesday June 13, 2017. Von Richter said he voted for Ralph Northam for governor because he believes the candidate is strong on issues like education and health care and will continue Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s efforts to bring more jobs to Virginia. (AP Photo/Alanna Durkin Richer)
Frank L. Marble waits to check in to vote in the gubernatorial primary Tuesday, June 13, 2017, at Red Mill Elementary, in Virginia Beach, Va. (L. Todd Spencer /The Virginian-Pilot via AP)
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