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Northam: Win sends message against hatred

Governor-elect Ralph Northam at his election night party. Times-Mirror/Alexander Todd Erkiletian
Seizing his party's first major Trump-era victory, Democrat Ralph Northam beat back a charge from Republican Ed Gillespie in the race for Virginia governor, a bruising election that tested the power of President Donald Trump's fiery nationalism against the energy of the Trump resistance.

In Virginia, as in several contests across America on Tuesday, the Trump resistance won. And it wasn't close.

Northam, a pediatric neurologist and Army veteran, defeated longtime Republican operative Gillespie in the hard-fought contest.

"I think what this message was yesterday that Virginia sent not only to this country, but to this world, is that the divisiveness, the hatred, the bigotry, the politics that is tearing this country apart, that's not the United States of America that people love," Northam said Wednesday at a news conference at Virginia's Capitol.

Northam promised to govern in a "Virginia Way" that promotes compromise and honest disagreements. He said his areas of focus would include improving rural Virginia's economy and expanding health care coverage for the state's poor.

Northam's victory set off overnight recriminations and finger-pointing among Trump's hardcore supporters. The pro-Trump website Breitbart News, which had earlier praised Gillespie as a "culture warrior," derided him as a "Republican swamp thing." Jerry Falwell Jr., president of Liberty University, said Northern Virginia's voter-rich liberal suburbs should be annexed by the District of Columbia, "to return the governance of (Virginia) to Virginians."

Democrats also scored victories in the race for New Jersey governor and in Maine, where voters slapped the state's Republican governor, a Trump ally, by backing a measure to expand Medicaid coverage under former President Barack Obama's health care law. The Democratic mayors of New York and Boston, both vocal Trump critics, also won re-election easily.

And Virginia voters elected the state's first openly-transgender state representative, among more than a dozen state legislative pickups for Democrats.

The resounding victories marked the GOP's most significant day of defeat in the young Trump presidency and a rebuke to the president himself as his party eyes a suddenly more threatening midterm election season next year.

The Democratic gubernatorial victories in Virginia and New Jersey prompted congratulations from Obama, who tweeted Wednesday morning, "This is what happens when the people vote." Obama also congratulated "all the victors in state legislative, county and mayors' races."

"The Democratic Party is back, my friends," said Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez.

Perez said the key to his party's success in Tueday's elections was fielding good candidates and thorough organizing efforts.

"Organizing matters," Perez told MSNBC's "Morning Joe." ''This was the most extensive, coordinated ground game in Virginia history, more extensive than any presidential ... Terry McAuliffe did a spectacular job four years ago, and they did that much more."

Trump immediately tried to distance himself from the loss.

"Ed Gillespie worked hard but did not embrace me or what I stand for," Trump tweeted Tuesday night as he toured Asia, noting that the GOP won a handful of special elections earlier in the year. "With the economy doing record numbers, we will continue to win, even bigger than before!"

Despite the criticism, Gillespie did, in more ways than one, embrace what Trump stands for, even if he didn't welcome Trump into the state to rally voters on his behalf.

The Republican president played a marginal role in Virginia, largely because Republicans on the ground did not want him there, a state he lost last fall, as his approval ratings hover near record lows. The White House instead dispatched Vice President Mike Pence to help Gillespie, although Trump promised Gillespie would "make America great again" in a recorded phone message that went to voters on the election's final day.

Gillespie, a former aide to President George W. Bush and GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, largely reinvented himself as Election Day neared by adopting many of Trump's racially-tinged nationalist positions. Gillespie warned of the dangers of the Hispanic street gang, MS-13, and highlighted its motto, "Kill, Rape, Control" in a television ad. The New Jersey native vowed to protect Confederate monuments. And he condemned the national anthem protests by NFL players, the vast majority of them black.

Liberal activists cheered their successes as evidence of the anti-Trump energy on the ground nationwide they have long insisted was real, despite poor results in special elections in deep-red Montana, Georgia and South Carolina.

"This is the first fair fight we've had. The special elections that we've had so far have been incredibly slanted to the conservative side," said Ezra Levin, co-founder of the liberal group Indivisible, which had hundreds of volunteers and a handful of paid staff on the ground in Virginia. "There is a wave building. And 2018 is just around the corner."

In New Jersey, Democrat Phil Murphy trounced Republican Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, who served under the term-limited, deeply unpopular GOP Gov. Chris Christie.

New Jersey Democratic Sen. Cory Booker, among several Democrats weighing a presidential bid in 2020, cast his party's gubernatorial victories in New Jersey and Virginia as "the very first statewide rebuttal of the Trump administration."

"We will not succumb to the politics of fear," Booker declared.

Peoples reported from New York. AP writers Michael Catalini in Asbury Park, New Jersey, Ben Finley in Richmond and Matthew Barakat in Fairfax contributed to this report.


Deckard, please provide one example of your Ill informed, uneducated accusation about Jim Crow. Please, I’m waiting to hear this doozy.

Today’s GOP isn’t allowed to take credit for anything the Republican party of the 19th century accomplished.  For example, the GOP of 1860 was all about ending slavery.  Today’s GOP is all about trying to return to Jim Crow.  Facts matter…put another way,  by their deeds you shall know them.

Lawman, you are living back in the 1800’s bro. This is the 21st Century. The Republicans ended slavery, maybe you should read history. There are millions of African Americans in this country excelling and doing very well. You know why? Because they are educated, carry themselves well and stay out of trouble. That is a recipe for success for anyone no matter race,color Creedor orientation. Sorry to give you the news bud but there has to be a time to stop playing your race card.

The people you associate with matter too…birds of the same feather flock together…

not northam’s ad - facts matter

Laughable comment—this was the guy with the hateful divisive commercial that needed to be pulled from the air in one day…

Hey @workhardgetahead, you want some cheese to go with all whining.  Here white males got all the advantages and you whining, please.  A white male that can’t make it in America is some kind of sorry.

A Democrat won a Governors race in Virginia by replacing another Democrat governor in a blue state that voted against Trump and who has voted Democrat since 2004. How is Northam’s victory a ‘message against hatred’? The people of Loudoun are now dumber for having read this article.

I know many Republicans that stayed home and I don’t understand it. Republicans are being painted as hatemongers and racist by the left and the main stream media. I would agree if we had things like the Congressional White Caucus or the NAAWP but we don’t but I know who does, just substitute White with Black and W with C. Who are the real racist and hatemongers?

Denial is a river in Egypt, right Trump true-believers?

You’d better enjoy it while you can.  The way things are going—today’s news about Roy Moore—pretty soon Trump will be the only sexual predator still holding a job.

I think everyone who comments here should not only use their real name, they should also give their occupation.  lessburger2 is complaining about “bloated government workers (sic).”

Well, our businesses, many of our jobs and many of our non-government workers ultimately depend on government workers for our own pay through their purchase of goods and services.

Also, I get your complaint, but the workers are not bloated; I assume you are claiming that government itself is bloated.  You may have a point.

Your printed newspaper headline on this article reads “rebukes Trump”.  LTM writers don’t get it.  Virginia is now a liberal state, thanks to the bloated government workers moving into our area.  With this election our state went from Blue to Blue.  How can this be a rebuke on Trump?  Your online headline reads “sends message against hatred”.  Since when is following our constitution and laws hatred? Normally the paper you deliver to our doorstep goes straight to the trash, but when I saw your headline I felt the need to comment. I’m sick in tired of all media spewing lies and propaganda.  Half of the country understands this, the other half is brainwashed by the opinions you report as news.  Stop!

“Perez said the key to his party’s success in Tueday’s elections was fielding good candidates and thorough organizing efforts.”  I’m going to have to disagree with that statement.  You could have put a piano playing chicken on the ballot and it appears he would have won.

If we can get back to compromise and honest disagreements that would be fantastic.  Based on 11 months of watching our President seize every issue that comes across his desk as yet another opportunity to divide Americans, I am not hopeful it can happen anytime soon.

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