Democrats End Losing Streak

Ralph Northam holds on to become Virginia's next governor

Virginia Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
November 7, 2017

Democrat Ralph Northam defeated Republican Ed Gillespie in Tuesday's election to determine Virginia's next governor.

Northam was declared the winner by the Associated Press at 8:12 p.m, just about an hour after the polls closed. Northam was leading by about four percentage points when the race was called.

Northam, currently Virginia's lieutenant governor, emerged from the election's primary phase as the clear favorite, but the polls had tightened in recent weeks.

The win comes after a long string of defeats for Democrats that followed their crushing losses last November, when Republicans maintained control of both chambers of Congress and took the presidency.

The win further solidifies Virginia as a blue state: Democrats there have now won two straight gubernatorial elections, carried the state in three straight presidential elections, and have held both the state's Senate seats since 2009. In 2016, failed Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton carried Virginia by five points.

For Gillespie, this is the second defeat in a statewide Virginia election in just three years—he unsuccessfully challenged incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Warner in 2014, losing by a small margin.

The win for Democrats comes a year after it was dealt crushing losses across the country last November. It then went on to lose a string of special elections in 2017, including in Georgia's sixth congressional district where the party spent $30 million in support of Democrat Jon Ossoff.

President Donald Trump responded to the election results by saying Gillespie lost because he failed to embrace Trump's agenda.

"Ed Gillespie worked hard but did not embrace me or what I stand for," Trump said. "Don’t forget, Republicans won 4 out of 4 House seats, and with the economy doing record numbers, we will continue to win, even bigger than before!"