WASHINGTON, November 7, 2017 — Democrats claimed victories in two key states. Virginia Lt. Gov Ralph Northam won the governor’s race in Virginia, beating Republican Ed Gillespie. In New Jersey, Democratic candidate Phil Murphy defeated Republican Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno. The election was a major boost for Democrats, who desperately in need of a win after the 2016 presidential election.
The Virginia race was neck-and-neck heading into election day. Both Democrats and Republicans poured millions into the election. Democrats seeking to link Gillespie to Trump cast the election as a chance to stand up to “Trump, Gillespie and hate.” DNC Chairman Tom Perez addressed the crowd at Northam’s victory party.
“The Democratic party is back, my friends,” “We’re back big-time. We are organizing everywhere. We’re mobilizing everywhere. We are leading with our values.”
President Trump weighed in on the results using Twitter, distancing himself from the results.
Gillespie called Northam on Tuesday night to concede and congratulate him.
“Governor-elect Northam is a good man and I appreciate his service to our country and our commonwealth and I wish him nothing but the best success as our 73rd governor,” Gillespie said.
Trump pledged that Gillespie would be “tough on crime and on the border” while Northam will be “a total disaster for your state,” according to a Politico report. Trump tweeted out several supporting tweets saying the Virginia economy would come back roaring with Gillespie. He even took time out during his Asia trip to attack his Democratic opponent as being soft on crime. Gillespie copied Trump’s playbook, attacking Northam over sanctuary cities and promising to not remove any Confederate Civil War monuments. Many pundits believe that Trump’s 43% approval rating helped Northam win.
Democrats have carried Virginia in the last three presidential elections and in three of the last four governor’s races. The current governor, Terry McAuliffe, is a Democrat and is term-limited. In 2016, Hillary Clinton carried the state by 5 points. In New Jersey, Murphy’s win returns the state to Democratic control after eight years of Republican control with Gov. Chris Christie in power.
Trump has been less involved in political races after backing Sen. Luther Strange in the Alabama Republican Senate primary, which Strange ended up losing to former judge Roy Moore. With these series of wins, the Democrats appear to regaining some lost traction, despite the infighting that continues within the party.