Sunday 19 November 2017

Democrat wins augur badly for Republicans in mid-terms

Virginia governor-elect Ralph Northam Photo: AP
Virginia governor-elect Ralph Northam Photo: AP

Barney Henderson, New York

The Democratic Party candidates for the governorships of both Virginia and New Jersey dealt Donald Trump's ­Republican Party its first major electoral defeats on Tuesday night.

In Virginia, which is ­widely viewed as a bellwether of next year's mid-term elections, Ralph Northam won a bitter race against Republican Ed ­Gillespie, who ran a combative campaign.

The softly spoken Mr Northam successfully tapped into anti-Trump sentiments and voter regret among many Republicans.

He overcame sustained attacks from Mr Gillespie, whose aggressive campaign had focused on immigration, gang crime and preserving Confederate statues.

During the campaign, Mr Trump frequently tweeted his support for Mr Gillespie.

However, the Republican, while attempting to appeal to the same voter base that thrust Mr Trump to the White House last November, had apparently attempted to keep the US president at arm's length owing to his historically low approval ratings.

Barack Obama, the former president, and Joe Biden, the former vice-president, had both campaigned for Mr Northam.

Mr Obama tweeted his support for the result yesterday, saying: "This is what happens when people vote."

The current US president stated late on Tuesday night that Mr Gillespie "did not embrace me or what I stand for".

Mr Northam, who enjoyed huge support from women voters, tweeted: "Tonight proved that we're stronger together."

The outgoing governor is a Democrat and Hillary Clinton won the state in last year's presidential election.

Turnout

In a second significant ­election in Virginia, a transgender ­woman unseated one of the state's most socially conservative ­politicians to win election to the House of Delegates.

Democrat Danica Roem, a journalist, beat Republican incumbent Bob Marshall, who had served in the House since 1992. She will make history as the first openly transgender person elected and then seated in a state legislature.

In New Jersey, the result was less of a surprise, largely owing to the widespread unpopularity of Chris Christie, the former governor, and Mr Trump.

Democrat Phil Murphy, who was the favourite, defeated Kim Guadagno.

But Democrat winners in both Virginia and New Jersey said that the election results were a message to the White House.

The new Virginia governor, Mr Northam, said in his victory speech to supporters: "Virginia has told us to end this divisiveness, that we will not condone hatred and bigotry and to end the politics that have torn this country apart."

The newly elected New Jersey governor Mr Murphy declared: "Tonight, New Jersey sent an unmistakable message to the entire nation: we are better than this."

The former city councillor from Brooklyn quashed his Republican challenger, 36-year-old state assembly member Nicole Malliotakis, in the largely Democratic city, where a woman has never served as mayor.

With 90pc of votes counted, he was propelled into office for another four years, on a commanding lead of 65.5pc compared to 28.7pc for Trump-voting Malliotakis, the 'New York Times' reported.

Even with a low turnout, that was no mean feat.

Irish Independent

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