Democrats earned two key gubernatorial wins on Tuesday in what the party is hoping to be a show of momentum.
Virginia Democratic Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam is projected by several outlets to defeat Republican challenger Ed Gillespie in a highly scrutinized race for Governor that was read as a potential measure of President Donald Trump’s influence. Northam will take over from term-limited Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe.
After the result, Trump took to Twitter to distance himself from Gillespie. According to Trump, Gillespie failed in not “embracing” the president enough. Trump’s grumbling is likely partially due to Gillespie not having Trump on the campaign trail.
“Ed Gillespie worked hard but did not embrace me or what I stand for,” he 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!”
In New Jersey, Chris Christie’s replacement will be Garden State Democrat Phil Murphy who is projected to defeat Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno. Christie’s status as America’s least-popular governor did the GOP no favors in retaining the position.
These two wins, Northam’s in particular, suggests that Democrats can push back in the era of Trump. While the current commander-in-chief blamed Gillespie for not embracing the Trump ethos, the campaign he ran frequently deployed Trump-like tactics and ad blitzes pushing fears about immigration and crime. Conversely, Northam’s campaign aligned Gillespie with Trump viewpoints. It’s not hard to imagine everything about this evening’s results will be analyzed to the finest detail as both Republicans and Democrats turn their attention to 2018.