Photo credit: Gage Skidmore

Near-Upset in Virginia as GOP Primary Ends in Photo Finish


Politics is never boring in Virginia — a battleground state which is one of just two states that has elections every year — and last night’s primaries were no exception.

(For some background on the races, read our preview from March.)

Ed Gillespie narrowly defeated Corey Stewart to secure the Republican nomination for governor.

Gillespie, former chairman of the Republican National Committee and Counselor to the President under George W. Bush, defeated Corey Stewart, chairman of the Prince William County Board of Supervisors and hardcore Donald Trump loyalist, by a razor-thin margin of 1.2 percent.

It was a surprisingly close race. Gillespie — who ran for the U.S. Senate in 2014 and lost to Democrat Mark Warner by less than 1 percent — had an advantage in name recognition and fundraising. Stewart modeled his campaign after Donald Trump and made a series of strange decisions, including spending months focusing on Confederate statues in the town of Charlottesville and getting himself fired as chairman of Donald Trump’s Virginia campaign in 2016. But Stewart mounted a strong challenge to Gillespie and finished with 42.5 percent of the vote, just shy of Gillespie’s 43.7 percent. State Senator Frank Wagner came in a distant third with 14 percent.

The race for the GOP nomination for lieutenant governor was also very close. State Senator Jill Vogel, an attorney, edged out a victory over State Senator Bryce Reeves, a retired U.S. Army Ranger, in a race that was marred by a defamation lawsuit. Vogel received 43 percent of the vote, Reeves received 40 percent, and state Delegate Glenn Davis came in a distant third with 17 percent.

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On the Democratic side, it was less close. Incumbent Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam defeated former Congressman Tom Perriello, 56 percent to 44 percent. Northam was expected to cruise to the nomination, but a fierce challenge from Perriello made things interesting. Perriello is a Bernie Sanders devotee and forced Northam to move far to the left to protect his lead. Former federal prosecutor Justin Fairfax won the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor with 49 percent of the vote in a three-way race.

Each party’s candidate for Attorney General faced no opposition for their respective nominations: Republican John Adams (yes, he is related to the John Adams) will challenge incumbent Democrat Mark Herring.

Tomorrow, we will have an outlook on the general election campaign.

Photo credit: Gage Skidmore

Thomas Valentine

Thomas Valentine is a columnist for

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