Democratic Lt. Gov Ralph Northam defeated Republican Ed Gillespie Tuesday to become Virginia’s next governor.
With 99 percent of precincts reporting, Northam has 53.6 percent of the vote and Gillespie has 45.2 percent.
Northam consistently led in the polls throughout the election and Virginia has not elected a Republican to state-wide office since 2009. The election took national importance as President Donald Trump backed Gillespie. However, Virginia was the only Southern state that Hillary Clinton won in 2016.
Shortly after Northam’s victory, Trump distanced himself from Gillespie.
“Ed Gillespie worked hard but did not embrace me or what I stand for,” Trump tweeted. “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!”
Northam, a former state senator and Army doctor, ran as a moderate and defeated progressive challenger Tom Perriello with a double-digit margin in the primary.
The general election took an increasingly negative turn as time wore on. A Monmouth University poll released Monday showed that 63 percent of likely voters described the race as negative. In late September, just 30 percent said likewise.
A liberal group supporting Northam’s candidacy, Latino Voters Fund, ran an ad in the final weeks of the election that depicted a Gillespie voter in a truck stalking minority children. Gillespie told The Daily Caller that this led to a surge in online fundraising. The group ended up pulling the ad due to backlash.
Gillespie attacked Northam throughout the campaign for a tie-breaking vote on a sanctuary city ban by running ads tying the Democrat to MS 13 violence.
Several prominent liberals responded to these ads and Gillespie’s support of Confederate monuments by claiming that the Republican ran a racist campaign.
However, despite the negativity, Northam insisted on election day that he would work with President Trump if elected. “I’m a neurologist, so I’m used to dealing with a lot of different minds,” Northam told The Guardian.