THE CANDIDATES HOSTED AN ELECTION NIGHT WATCH PARTY-TURNED-VICTORY RALLY AT MASON
By Olivia Vermane, Staff Writer
Democrat Ralph Northam won the race to be Virginia’s next governor, defeating his Republican rival Ed Gillespie in one of the first statewide general elections since President Donald Trump was elected last November.
Although some polls in the final days before the election predicted a close race, Northam won the election with 53.89 percent of the vote. Gillespie received 44.93 percent according to the final tally.
Northam’s campaign hosted an election night watch party at the Hub on George Mason’s Fairfax campus. The gubernatorial candidate was joined by supporters, media reporters, and elected officials, including incumbent Governor Terry McAuliffe and U.S. Senator Tim Kaine.
“You have taken one of the reddest states in the country and you have turned it into not just a battleground, not just purple – you have turned it into a blue state,” Kaine said to the roaring crowd of more than 800 attendees.
Democrats Justin Fairfax and Mark Herring also took the stage at Mason as they celebrated their respective victories in the races for lieutenant governor and state attorney general.
Fairfax is now only the second African-American candidate to take the position of lieutenant governor after L. Douglas Wilder, who served from 1986 until 1990.
Fairfax briefly addressed his plans to fight for affordable higher education by making community college and apprenticeship programs more accessible. He also spoke about his goals of reforming the “broken criminal justice system” and dismantling “piece by piece the broken prison pipeline.”
“Ours is a commonwealth of hope, of inclusion, and of opportunity for everyone,” agreed Herring. “We have rejected the politics of fear and division in favor of a commonwealth that strives for justice, equality, and opportunity.”
A small group of demonstrators briefly interrupted the celebration just as Northam took the stage. A man forced his way to the front and attempted to jump the barricade as other protesters scattered throughout the crowd chanted “Sanctuary for all!” The protest was a reference to Northam’s campaign pledge to ban sanctuary cities in Virginia.
The protesters were quickly escorted out of the building by security, and Northam was welcomed back to the stage for a sweeping victory speech as the crowd cheered louder than ever at his return.
He explained that the Democratic victories mark a political turning point in Virginia, and signal a direct rebuke of President Trump and Republican ideology. He mentioned issues like higher quality education, healthcare, environmental protection and gun control that motivated his campaign, and discussed how he would continue to support these policies as governor.
Northam continually thanked those who had helped drive his campaign forward, including the persistent efforts of Mason Democrats who worked on his campaign from the beginning. He also acknowledged the many other volunteers and activists who knocked on doors and made phone calls to persuade voters before the election.
After an exciting night for the Democrats in Virginia, Northam concluded that this election is only the beginning for them.
“So tomorrow, my fellow Virginians, the hard work of governing begins,” he said. “Let’s get to work.”
Photos by Morgan McCarthy