GOP VA Governor’s Primary Comes Down to the Wire, Gillespie Edging Stewart

Gillespie, Stewart Steve HelberAP
Steve Helber/AP

With 99.92 percent of precincts reporting, Ed Gillespie appears to have won Tuesday’s Republican primary for governor by an unexpectedly narrow margin.

Corey Stewart, the populist former Trump campaign state chairman who ran on an unrestrained Trumpian populist platform, stands only 1.15 percent back from Gillespie, who most mainstream outlets reported would coast to victory.

Mainstream polling outfits put Gillespie as much as 27 points ahead of Stewart in the months before the election. One poll by Change Research, a new firm, predicted a very close final result and was reported by Breitbart News but ignored by most other news outlets. Sources informed Breitbart News the poll was rejected by some of these outlets due to questions about its methodology.

While Stewart did not immediately concede the election, Gillespie declared victory at an election night party at his Richmond campaign headquarters. Gillespie focused his campaign on taxes, business regulations, and economic growth and hit those themes in his victory speech. “We could not have a more important election on our hands,” he told his cheering supporters. “When it comes, the growth and the job creation, Virginia should be first in the nation and we are going to be!”

“If I am entrusted with governorship of the Commonwealth we love, I will be an ethical, honest, hard-working, principled Governor,” Gillespie continued.

Stewart, at his own Woodbridge election night event, characterized the race as “too close to call.” Virginia law allows for recounts where candidates are within one percent of each other. It remains to be seen if the results will clear that margin. Stewart used his speech to call out his naysayers and tout his much-better-than expected result:

Even all of you in the press, I love you, but you’re just wrong! Because you all said it couldn’t be done. You all said that someone who supported our president, somebody who supported President Trump … somebody who was out financed five-to-one … somebody who was fighting against the establishment could never win!

The Democratic side of the campaign was far less close, with Lt. Governor Ralph Northam easily triumphing over Bernie Sanders-endorsed left-wing former congressman Tom Perriello. Perriello had made headlines calling Corey Stewart a “Confederate apologist using racism for political ends” and condemning Gillespie for refusing to disavow him. Despite the call, Gillespie never did so, citing Ronald Reagan’s apocryphal eleventh commandment to not attack fellow Republicans, and congratulated him and fellow challenger State Senator Tom Wagner on a hard-fought campaign.

The same polling that predicted Corey Stewart finishing well back of Gillespie puts Northam well-ahead for November’s general election to succeed incumbent Democrat and long-time Clinton ally Terry McAauliffe.

Republican Jill Vogel and Democrat Justin Fairfax won their respective nominations for Lieutenant Governor.

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