Democrat Ralph Northam won a bitter race for Virginia governor on Tuesday, dealing a setback to President Donald Trump. Zachary Goelman reports.
(SOUNBITE) (English) DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE FOR VIRGINIA GOVERNOR RALPH NORTHAM, SAYING: "We are back by popular demand. Virginia, we have witnessed yet another Democratic sweep today." The Democratic candidate for governor of the state of Virginia declared victory Tuesday night (November 7). The statewide race was closely watched and delivered Democrats their first major victory of since the party lost the White House in 2016. Ralph Northam, a physician, army veteran, and current state lieutenant governor, lead with 53 percent of the vote with nearly all precincts reporting. His rival, former Republican National Committee chairman Ed Gillespie, conceded the race. (SOUNBITE) (English) REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE FOR VIRGINIA GOVERNOR ED GILLESPIE, SAYING: "We will continue to root for the commonwealth of Virginia to do well, and hope that our governor is successful in that regard." The contest raised divisive issues, with Gillespie pressing Northam on matters such as immigration, gang violence, and pro-slavery monuments. It was in Charlottesville, Virginia, where members of the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazis held a rally in support of a Confederate statue, and clashed with anti-racist demonstrators. A suspected white supremacist rammed his car into protesters, killing one woman. U.S. President Donald Trump provoked outrage after he angrily defended the white nationalists. (SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP, SAYING: "And you had some very bad people in that group. But you also had people, that were very fine people, on both sides." He also endorsed Gillespie in the Virginia governor's race. And has been sending tweets and recorded messages in support of him during the president's trip in Asia. But strong Democratic turnout the northern Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C., propelled the party to several state victories. In addition to taking the governor's office, their candidates won the offices of lieutenant governor, attorney general, and gained several seats in the statehouse. Democrat Danica Roem also became the first transgender woman to win a Virginia state legislative race - beating a long-time Republican incumbent, who had authored an anti-transgender bathroom law. President Trump quickly distanced himself from the outcome, tweeting: 'Ed Gillespie worked hard but did not embrace me or what I stand for."