Tags: Election 2017 | northam | virginia | nasty | campaign | midterms

Northam's Nasty Campaign in Virginia a 'Dress Rehearsal' for Races in '18?

Image: Northam's Nasty Campaign in Virginia a 'Dress Rehearsal' for Races in '18?
Ralph Northam (AP)

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Wednesday, 08 Nov 2017 12:48 AM Current | Bio | Archive

As the polls closed in Virginia Tuesday night, Republicans who spoke to Newsmax — including the Old Dominion's three living former GOP governors — agreed that the mean-spirited, Trump-bashing campaign waged by Democratic Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam would surely boomerang and make Republican Ed Gillespie governor.

They were wrong. With near final results in, Northam won by the biggest margin of any winning Democrat for governor (53 percent to 46 percent) in 32 years.

Coupled with a Democratic sweep of the two other statewide races (lieutenant governor and attorney general) and a stunning gain of at least 12 seats in the state House of Delegates (putting Democrats on the verge of a 50-to-50 seat tie in the legislative chamber), signs were strong that the brass-knuckled campaign in Virginia was a "dress rehearsal" for the Democratic offensive in the 2018 midterm elections.

"Both sides used this election to test their themes for the midterm," former National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Tom Davis, R-Va., told Newsmax, "What works gets replicated."

(Davis also noted that "Virginia has a history of voting against the President's party for governor in nine of the last ten elections.")

Northam's win over Gillespie came after a race in which the former Republican National Committee chairman was almost always linked to President Trump, who lost the state to Hillary Clinton in 2016.

A Northam TV blitz featured the Democrat — who once branded the president a "narcissistic maniac" — vowing not to work with Trump if he tried to cut spending on education and healthcare.

In addition, an independent expenditure never repudiated by the Democratic hopeful ran a TV ad featuring a pick-up truck bearing a Gillespie sticker and a Confederate flag trying to run down black, Hispanic and Muslim children.

"Ralph's embrace of these ads showed an utter lack of judgment on the part of a decent man," former Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell told Newsmax, recalling that Northam had an accomplished background as a graduate of the Virginia Military Institute, a U.S. Army veteran of Desert Storm and a pediatrician.

"I felt the Democrat's embrace of the pick-up truck ad was going to energize Ed's support.

But it worked — in a big way. In the historically Democratic Northern Virginia, the suburbs of Washington D.C., Northam carried every town won by Hillary Clinton and in some cases increased her margin.

The turnout in Democratic Arlington and Alexandria increased from 43 percent in the last gubernatorial election (2013) to 52 percent this year. In contrast, in Republican Southwest Virginia, the turnout went up only from 43 to 46 percent in four years.

Republicans who spoke to Newsmax felt Gillespie, narrow loser in one of the nation's tightest U.S. Senate races three years ago, had run a superb race for governor and stuck to policy rather than negative campaigning.

"Ed's a policy guy, and I felt his agenda — cutting taxes 10 percent across the board, taking a harder line on crime, and increasing our energy supply — was resonating," former governor and onetime RNC chairman Jim Gilmore told us.

The Republican hopeful, long a close associate and friend of George W. Bush, also carefully avoided any criticism of Trump.

"Sure, of course, I voted for him," Gillespie replied to Newsmax two weeks ago, "And I introduced [running mate] Mike Pence at two rallies. I liked what he did with the Paris climate accord, and his policies will mean more ships for our naval yard in Norfolk.”

Others felt Gillespie didn't go far enough in embracing Trump. From South Korea, the President tweeted that Gillespie "did not embrace me or what I stand for' (although he never specified precisely what that is.)

So, with the end of one of the nastiest Democratic onslaughts in modern Virginia history, the obvious question is that with national mid-term elections almost upon us, is this the beginning of a similar effort nationwide in 2018?

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.

© 2017 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

   
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As the polls closed in Virginia Tuesday night, Republicans who spoke to Newsmax - including the Old Dominion's three living former GOP governors - agreed that the mean-spirited, Trump-bashing campaign waged by Democratic Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam would surely boomerang and...
northam, virginia, nasty, campaign, midterms
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2017-48-08
Wednesday, 08 Nov 2017 12:48 AM
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