Northam wins Virginia, Murphy takes New Jersey

By Danielle Haynes  |  Nov. 7, 2017 at 8:24 PM
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Nov. 7 (UPI) -- Democrats swept the two open gubernatorial seats Tuesday with voters choosing Ralph Northam in Virginia and Phil Murphy in New Jersey, polls indicate.

CNN and NBC News projected the wins shortly after polls closed in both states.

Northam, currently lieutenant governor, defeated Republican Ed Gillespie to replace outgoing Gov. Terry McAuliffe. McAuliffe was ineligible to run due to term limits.

Northam, who had former President Barack Obama's endorsement, held double-digit leads in polls until recently.

All 100 seats in Virginia's Legislature, the House of Delegates, also are being contested. Whether the Democratic Party can make inroads in the Republican-dominated assembly could be a bellwether for the 2018 midterm elections.

President Donald Trump, who endorsed Gillespie, appeared to reverse his support for the candidate after media outlets projected his loss.

"Ed Gillespie worked hard but did not embrace me or what I stand for. 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!" the president tweeted.

In New Jersey, Murphy will replace Republican Gov. Chris Christie, also ineligible to run due to term limits. Murphy defeated New Jersey Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno.

Murphy thanked voters for the projected win.

"On behalf of my family and campaign team, thank you for all you've done for this campaign," he tweeted.

Democrats also secured down-ballot wins in Virginia, as Justin Fairfax and Mark Herring defeated Republican candidates for lieutenant governor and attorney general.

Fairfax defeated Jill Holtzman Vogel, a state senator who sponsored a bill that would have required women seeking abortions to undergo vaginal ultrasounds, in the race for lieutenant governor.

Fairfax became the second African American elected to the position statewide after L. Douglas Wilder who was elected lieutenant governor and later governor.

Herring maintained his seat as attorney general, defeating Republican challenger John Adams, who criticized Herring for refusing to defend Virginia's same-sex marriage ban in court.

Herring has sued the Trump administration over its travel ban and its decision to end federal subsidies to health insurers.

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