The Virginia gubernatorial election on Tuesday ended in a landslide victory for the Democratic candidate, Ralph Northam, a soft spoken pediatrician from a small town on the Eastern Shore of Chesapeake Bay in Virginia. Northam won, gaining 53.7 percent of the vote to his Republican opponent Ed Gillespie's 45.1 percent, enough to bring his Democratic running mates to victory with him and it looks like enough to topple the Republican majority in Virginia's House of Delegates.
Many pundits are taking this Virginia election result as a rebuke of President Donald Trump who had tweeted on election day, slamming Northam and supporting Gillespie.
“Ralph Northam will allow crime to be rampant in Virginia. He’s weak on crime, weak on our GREAT VETS, Anti-Second Amendment and has been horrible on Virginia economy. Vote @EdWGillespie today!” the president wrote in a series of posts to Twitter.
[Note Virginia ranks low among states in crime rates and its unemployment rate is below the low national unemployment rate.]
Once Gillespie lost the Virginia election, Trump was quick to blame the candidate for the loss in a tweet, “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!”
One can only speculate what would have happened if Gillespie had fully embraced Trump in his campaign. Instead, Gillespie tried to thread the needle by using some of the Trump tactics of division like supporting confederate statues and taking hard anti immigration stances, but never really using the Trump name in his campaign.
Barack Obama actively embraced the Democrat Northam. On October 19, about two weeks before the election the 44th U.S. President spoke at the Richmond Convention Center in support of Democratic candidate. Obama also recorded robo-calls on behalf of the candidate.
Trump did record robo-calls in support of Gillespie, and did consider a Trump rally in Virginia to excite his supporters to vote for the Republican candidate, but during the campaign Trump never visited Virginia, which is just across the Potomac River from the White House.
But such a campaign visit was apparently considered and discussed among Trump's circle of advisers. An October 13 Washington Post story quotes a former chairman of Donald Trump's Virginia campaign as saying the White House was in "very serious talks" with Ed Gillespie's gubernatorial campaign about having the president stump for him in the state.
But it never happened, and those who live across the river from Washington DC were deprived of a possible head to head battle - perhaps in historic Richmond Virginia - between Obama and Trump.
Talk about fireworks. Probably best that we avoided that.
Washington Post story on possible visit to Virginia in support of Republican Ed Gillespie at http://www.fredericksburg.com/news/politics/trump-might-hit-trail-to-lift-gillespie/article_33913cb6-b018-11e7-9f33-93ec9ec775a8.html