Morning Digest: Ralph Northam wins Democratic nod while Ed Gillespie squeaks past Corey Stewart

[ Originally published on this site as post ]

The Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir, Jeff Singer, Stephen Wolf, and Carolyn Fiddler, with additional contributions from David Jarman, Steve Singiser, Daniel Donner, James Lambert, and David Beard.

leading off

VA-Gov: On Tuesday, both parties held primaries for this November’s race to replace termed-out Virginia Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe. On the Democratic side, Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam defeated ex-Rep. Tom Perriello 56-44. But the GOP contest was unexpectedly a cliffhanger, with ex-Republican National Committee head Ed Gillespie, who was Team Red’s 2014 Senate nominee, defeating Prince William County Supervisor Corey Stewart just 43.7-42.5.

Campaign Action

While Perriello quickly endorsed Northam on Tuesday night, Stewart took a very different approach. Stewart told his supporters following his defeat, “There is one word you will never hear from me, and that’s ‘unity’,” and he continued by declaring, “We’ve been backing down too long. We’ve been backing down too long in defense of our culture, and our heritage and our country.” While Stewart’s margin of defeat appears to be just outside the margin needed for a recount, Stewart’s team did not concede, and they told the Washington Post that they want to wait for the absentee votes to be counted before assessing their options.

We’ll start with the GOP primary, which we and almost every other observer expected to be a blowout win for Gillespie. Gillespie, who impressed Republicans by almost defeating Democratic Sen. Mark Warner in 2014, held a massive fundraising edge over both Stewart and state Sen. Frank Wagner, who took just 14 percent of the vote. Indeed, from April 1 to June 1, Gillespie outspent Stewart $1.7 million to $402,000, and Stewart had little cash left over for the homestretch.

Stewart, who served as the head of Donald Trump’s Virginia campaign for much of the 2016 cycle, tried to link himself to Trump and framed Gillespie as an ally of “the Bush family and other establishment Republicans who hurt the Republican brand so badly that we got Barack Obama.” That’s actually one of the nicer things Stewart said about Gillespie. In addition to referring to Gillespie as a “cuckservative” without any prompting on Reddit, Stewart’s allies altered real news headlines on Facebook to attack Gillespie.