Ed Gillespie wins GOP nomination, will face Northam

With almost 90 percent of the ballots counted, Gillespie was leading in Virginia's gubernatorial primary by a less than 1 percent margin over Republican rival Corey Stewart in a race that appeared headed to a likely recount.

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.

Speaking to a sweaty crowd packed into an Arlington restaurant with no air-conditioning, an ebullient Northam congratulated Perriello for his strong race and urged his opponent's supporters to join his campaign.

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.

Democrats in the region drove the higher turnout and also had more reason to head to the polls than Republican voters with seven contested House of Delegates primaries in addition to competitive races for lieutenant governor and governor.

Virginia Democratic candidate for governor, Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam, with his wife Pam, left, and son Weston, celebrate his victory in the Democratic primary during an election party in Crystal City, Va., Tuesday, June 13, 2017. N.

The victor on the Democrat side, Ralph Northam, notes that as lieutenant governor, he cast tie-breaking votes to ban employment discrimination based on sexual orientation in state government; to repeal the "infamous and medically unnecessary" mandate requiring an ultrasound before abortion; and to raise the minimum wage for all working Virginians.

In his victory speech, Gillespie tried to play peacemaker and asked Stewart supporters to get behind him for the general election.

Meanwhile, Gillespie and the Republican nominees for lieutenant governor and attorney general will embark on a statewide tour beginning today that includes a stop at a Veterans of Foreign Wars post in Norfolk, according to the Republican Party of Virginia's website.

At the same time, former Republican National Committee chairman Ed Gillespie narrowly defeated Trump state campaign chairman Corey Stewart in a closer-than-expected race for the Republican nomination.

Former state Sen. Frank Wager was running in a distant third, according to the election reports. 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.

Northam beat former congressman Tom Perriello, with most polls reporting Tuesday. Northam faces a primary against former Rep. Tom Perriello.

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.

"One of the things that I liked about his candidacy is that he seemed a bit more like a progressive candidate", said Priest, who voted for Sanders in the last presidential primary.

Stewart won 56.89 percent of the vote in Floyd County (380 votes to Gillespie's 227).

"I think he has the ability to move Virginia forward like McAuliffe has", the 80-year-old said. Gillespie is facing two challengers for the party nomination.

She said Northam has "proven he can work across the aisle".

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