In what was supposed to be the barn burner of the Virginia gubernatorial primary contests, Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam comfortably dispatched former congressman Tom Perriello for the Democratic nomination.
Both candidates did well in their home areas: central-southside-southwest Virginia for Perriello, and Hampton Roads for Northam. But the overwhelming favorite of Virginia Democratic elected officials won solidly in Richmond and Northern Virginia, with an especially strong showing among African-Americans being especially significant to the results. Northam exceeded expectations in another respect: He was thought to be most likely to win if turnout were low. It appears turnout will bump up against the half-million figure thought to be the ceiling for this primary.
The results, for all the sometimes ridiculous hype about this being a Sanders-Clinton rematch, are a vindication of the virtually united Virginia Democratic Party support for Northam. He was endorsed by every federal and state Democratic elected official in the Old Dominion with the sole exception of U.S. Representative Gerald Connolly, who was neutral. The primary campaign was mostly a civil affair, and there’s no reason Perriello and his supporters (who skewed young) won’t be able to pull together behind Northam.
The biggest shocker of the night is that the Democratic gubernatorial race was called even as the GOP contest — supposedly a cakewalk for former RNC chairman Ed Gillespie — was too close to call. That’s good news for Northam, too.