Democrats score key poll wins in Virginia, New Jersey

Washington, Nov 8 Democrats have scored two significant victories in the US by exploiting President Donald Trump’s deep unpopularity to capture the governorships in Virginia and New Jersey.

In Virginia, Ralph Northam defeated Republican Ed Gillespie in a race marked by tussles on immigration and Confederate statues, according to the results published by the Department of Elections on Tuesday night.

Northam, a physician and Army veteran, led Gillespie by nearly nine percentage points with 99 per cent of precincts reporting, the widest victory in decades for a Democratic candidate for Governor of Virginia, the New York Times reported.

The Democrat offered to work with Trump after previously calling him “a narcissistic maniac”.

Northam also vowed to lead efforts to remove Confederate statues, only to say later that he would leave the decision to local authorities.

Gillespie, a Washington lobbyist and former Republican party chairman, had accused Northam of failing to curb gang violence and seeking to tear down statues honouring Civil War, pro-slavery secessionists.

“Tonight we proved that we’re stronger when we value and fight for one another,” Northam said on Twitter after his win.

Trump, who had supported Gillespie, criticised him for not fully embracing him during the race. “Ed Gillespie worked hard but did not embrace me or what I stand for,” Trump tweeted on Tuesday evening.

In New Jersey, Phil Murphy, a former Goldman Sachs executive, beat Kim Guadagno to be New Jersey Governor.

With 71 per cent of ballots counted, Murphy had won 55.6 per cent, while Guadagno had secured 42.5 per cent.

New York City’s Democrat Mayor Bill de Blasio was also comfortably re-elected. He won over Republican state lawmaker Nicole Malliotakis, of Staten Island, and several third-party candidates.

Meanwhile, Virginia voters also made history by electing their first openly transgender state legislator Danica Roem. She defeated longtime Republican incumbent Robert G. Marshall in Prince William County.

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