SWVA voters choose Stewart, Perriello in gubernatorial primaries

As for the Democratic candidates, the race has come down to two candidates - Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam and former congressman Tom Perriello. He's courted reliable Democratic voters, saying he is the more pragmatic choice who can win in the general election. Virginia is one of only two states electing new governors this year, and the contest could serve as a preview to 2018's midterm elections.

RICHMOND, Va. - After a surprisingly close race, Ed Gillespie clinched the Republican nomination for governor, reports the Associated Press. The most recent Washington Post/George Mason University poll conducted in mid-May had Perriello up by two percentage points, though that fell within the margin of error, and another poll conducted around the same time showed Northam leading by 10 percentage points.

Former U.S. Rep. Tom Perriello is running as a liberal crusader who has the support of national Democrats such as Sens. Bernie Sanders, promising to stand up to both President Donald Trump and the entrenched business interests that dominate state politics. As a Republican candidate, many in-party voters and opponents are questioning why he has never quite fully addressed Trump on his campaign trail.

"I parked the cars for the staff that worked in the big office building on Capitol Hill and one of the people I was parking cars there with had an internship in one of the offices where there was another opening", Gillespie said.

Democrats are hopeful that trend will carry through to November. New Jersey is the only other state holding a gubernatorial contest this year.

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Senator Reeves says he's willing to work with Democrats on issues where they can agree.

Perriello is outright rejecting the support of one of the most powerful political entities in Virginia, the state's public utility, Dominion Energy.

"It has made me realize how important local politics has become, considering I don't really feel like I have a whole lot of control in federal politics at the moment", Barrows said.

Perriello is challenging the state's lieutenant-governor, Ralph Northam, in the primary.

This fall will mark four years since Gov. Terry McAuliffe was elected.

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In northern Virginia, some voters told News4 they also preferred Northam for being more middle of the road and for his experience.

"I do feel it's important for people to understand that we are there to serve the objective of the commonwealth and to serve our citizens, not for any personal gain, and I don't want anyone having any doubts about that", Gillespie said. Obama has remained neutral in the race, but many of his former aides have lined up behind Perriello.

Perriello had the backing of a host of national progressive leaders including Sens. Virginia, once a Republican bulwark in presidential polls, has gone Democratic in three straight elections. You would normally expect the nationally focused Perriello to have an advantage in the nationally focused D.C. suburbs. Although Mark Warner narrowly defeated Gillespie, Gillespie quickly bounced back and announced his plan to run for Virginia's governor in October 2015.

What this means is that, if a Republican wins this November's gubernatorial race, that Republican is highly likely to have a GOP state house and senate that will enact the full Republican agenda. Northam has pushed his campaign further to the left and has described Trump as a narcissistic maniac - while Perriello has attempted to reach out to Trump voters by selling a message of economic populism framed through a progressive perspective. Gillespie is the former chairman of the Republican National Committee.

Gillespie, a moderate GOP insider, aims to make a modest cut to income tax.

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Stewart has run a controversial campaign, pledging to fight the removal of Virginia's Confederate memorials and to crackdown on illegal immigration, and pledging his loyalty to Trump and his policies. Wagner has emphasized his experience as a businessman, military veteran and longtime lawmaker. Felty, a 48-year-old surgical assistant, said a GOP victory in Virginia would wrestle back the "narrative being touted in the mainstream media that the Democrats are gaining traction" under Trump.

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