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Trump affects Virginia primaries, but not as expected

Northam received 55.9 percent of the vote in a two-way race with former congressman Tom Perriello, defeating the progressive by more than 64,000 votes. Frank Wagner a distant third. Stewart also vowed to continue to fight efforts to remove confederate statues from public parks in the state.

Of course there's many variables: Trump could find some way to come back into favor and an off-election year usually fails to attract the much-needed Democratic party base.

Perriello conceded the race on Twitter around 8:46 p.m. "We'll still be here when he's gone", said Bonnie Reid, 70, a Northam volunteer. Virginia has an open primary, which means that voters do not vote by party affiliation, but they can only request one party's ballot.

Nearly every profile of the Perriello-Northam race cast the former as the progressive, populist outsider insurgent and the latter as the moderate, centrist creature of the establishment.

There was no primary for Virginia's other statewide elected office, attorney general. "I don't know about you, but I am inspired to keep fighting tonight".

The two candidates share positions on most issues, with both saying they will maintain abortion rights and backing more than doubling the minimum wage to US$15 a hour.

"I think he is fiscally responsible", Sarah Revers, 52, said on her way out a polling place in Fairfax County. Tom Perriello, as nominee for governor. "When it comes, the growth and the job creation, Virginia should be first in the nation and we are going to be!"

That division is too simplistic to either explain the election results or plot a course to future victory for the Democrats. "This is the bellwether of the country", he said in his victory speech.

Gillespie barely defeated Corey Stewart, who was sacked as Trump's state campaign chairman a year ago and focused his gubernatorial bid on preserving Virginia's Confederate history.

In the Lt. Governor's race, Democrat Justin Fairfax easily beat out his two Primary Election candidates Gene Rossi and Susan Platt.

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

Traditionally, Virginia is a conservative state, although the Washington, D.C. -fueled growth in the suburbs of Northern Virginia has increased Democrats' influence in the state.

Stewart's unexpectedly strong showing shocked Republicans at Gillespie's party at a Hilton Hotel ballroom in the Richmond suburbs, where supporters who had expected a blow-out were concerned to see Stewart running a close second. "I'll also make sure we protect women's rights and the right of quality, affordable and accessible healthcare for all", stated Ayala.

Gillespie's strategy of keeping some distance between himself and Trump - partly to improve his chances against a Democratic opponent in November - appeared to have backfired. Northam, a pediatric neurologist and Army veteran, emphasized his pragmatic approach and ability to work with Republicans.

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

Democratic voters were energized in opposition to Trump and turned out in higher-than-expected numbers Tuesday.

The 57-year-old Northam has stuck to the more traditional way of campaigning, emphasizing the deep support he enjoys from every statewide Democratic official and state legislator. "Donald Trump has a been a gift to the Virginia Democratic Party". "This primary has been more of a contest of style, approach and focus than substantive policy differences". Stewart raised $306,500, and Wagner garnered only $59,830. He was the epitome of party establishment - a former Republican National Committee chairman - in a state where that still matters. And he's explicitly appealing to Trump supporters.

Gillespie, 55, of Fairfax County, has tried to avoid appearing either too critical or too supportive of Trump, a task that could become more hard in a general-election campaign targeting a broader audience of potential voters.

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