RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Democratic candidates in Virginia and New Jersey who sought to tap into anti-Donald Trump sentiments won contests on Tuesday to become their states’ next governors.
In Virginia’s closely watched contest, Democratic Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam defeated Republican Ed Gillespie. In New Jersey front-running Democrat Phil Murphy overcame Republican Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno to succeed unpopular GOP Gov. Chris Christie.
Northam rode to victory in part by tapping into voters’ regret at Trump’s victory in last year’s national election.
Murphy had an easier pathway in New Jersey, where Guadagno contended with Trump’s and Christie’s unpopularity.
Democrats were eager to show they could harness anti-Trump energy into success at the polls, while Republicans hoped to prove they could put together winning blueprint in blue-leaning states.
While local politics and issues weighed heavy on voters’ minds in Virginia, some also were driven by lingering resentment from Hillary Clinton’s loss or still excited by Trump’s win.
Vickie Williams, a stay-at-home mom, voted for Gillespie “because I’m a Republican. I voted for Donald Trump. I like the policies, that’s the only reason,” she said. “I want to feel like America is safe. I want to feel like we have more control, less government. I feel like the other way is big government.”
In New Jersey, Murphy defeated Guadagno, who was at Christie’s side for the past eight years.
“If I could get rid of Trump I would be even happier. I’ve never seen our state so miserable and I’ve never seen our country so miserable,” said John Holpp, 88, who said he voted for Murphy because he’s “hoping to get rid of” Christie, who is term-limited.