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Democrat Ralph Northam will be next Virginia governor - KBZK.com | Continuous News | Bozeman, Montana

Democrat Ralph Northam will be next Virginia governor

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(CBS) (CBS)

Democrat Ralph Northam has defeated Republican Ed Gillespie in the race to become the next governor of Virginia.

Northam, the state's lieutenant governor, had consistently lead Gillespie in the polls, albeit by narrow margins in recent weeks. The tightening polls had worried Democrats, who were still reeling from President Trump's 2016 upset victory and a string of special election defeats.

However, Northam defeated Gillespie on Tuesday in an election that Democrats hope will be a harbinger of the 2018 midterms.

Gillespie, a former adviser to President George W. Bush, ran as a Trump-style culture warrior who would keep Virginia's confederate monuments and prevent the emergence of sanctuary cities in the state. Still, he kept President Trump at a distance and did not campaign with him in Virginia.

Republicans had hoped that Gillespie's strategy would provide a road map for how to win during Mr. Trump's presidency. Democrats, meanwhile, fretted that Northam's milquetoast campaign would doom him in one of the few battleground states to go for Hillary Clinton in 2016.

In the end, however, the fears were misplaced, and the race was not as close as many had predicted it would be. And Northam's triumph in this bellwether election is likely to now give his ailing party a shot in the arm. 

© 2017 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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