Ralph Northam and Ed Gillespie are squaring off in the highest-profile governor’s race of the Trump era.
The most closely contested governor’s election of the Trump era so far is here. Voters in Virginia will cast their ballots for either Democrat Ralph Northam or Republican Ed Gillespie Tuesday, in a race that could have major implications for both parties in next year’s midterm elections. Polls close in the state at 7 pm Eastern.
Polling has shown Northam, the current lieutenant governor, and Gillespie, a longtime Republican operative and lobbyist, in a close race, with Northam generally holding a slight edge in averages and being viewed as the favorite.
Still, Democrats have been exceedingly nervous about how this race will turn out, in part because of Northam’s perceived lack of charisma, in part because Virginia polls overstated Democratic leads in a pair of recent high-profile elections, and in part because Gillespie has been hammering Northam on culture war issues like immigration and Confederate monuments.
But there’s more at stake in the state than just the governorship — all 100 seats in Virginia’s House of Delegates will be on the ballot too. Republicans currently hold a 66-34 majority in the chamber, a majority that has hamstrung the efforts of Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe to pass sweeping legislation. (The state Senate, which Republicans control much more narrowly, won’t be up for election again until 2019.)
More broadly, Democrats have hoped that Donald Trump’s unpopular presidency could energize their votes and help deliver them down-ballot gains in governors’ mansions, congressional, and state House races across the country. Virginia’s elections today will be a major test of whether that’s actually happening.
The governor’s race looks closer than Democrats hoped it would be
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