Gillespie edges out Trump-aligned candidate in Virginia gov primary

Gillespie edges out Trump-aligned candidate in Virginia gov primary
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Ed Gillespie has narrowly edged out Corey Stewart to clinch the Republican nomination for Virginia governor, according to The Washington Post, a photo finish to a race predicted to end in a wide victory for Gillespie. 

Gillespie's win marks a slim victory for the establishment wing of the GOP. Stewart had aligned himself strongly with President Trump, hoping to ride the populist wave that sent Trump to the White House in November.

Gillespie ultimately took 43 percent of the vote, while Stewart came in a close second with 42 percent. Trailing far back in third was Frank Wagner, a Navy veteran and Virginia state senator without the national backing of Gillespie or the populist fervor of Stewart.

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Gillespie, a former chairman of the Republican National Committee, was expected to win the GOP primary by a wide margin — the result of Trump's growing disapproval and a signal that insurgent candidates could be losing political ground.

Also driving the prediction of Gillespie's win was Stewart's embrace of Confederate symbols, which cost him the support of some longtime GOP allies and colleagues.

The Trump-aligned candidate garnered attention in April when he got into an argument on Twitter with musician John Legend, among others, over the removal of Confederate monuments in New Orleans.

Trump ultimately lost Virginia in the November presidential election, coming in with roughly 200,000 votes fewer than his Democratic opponent, Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonO’Malley tells Dems not to fear Trump FBI informant gathered years of evidence on Russian push for US nuclear fuel deals, including Uranium One, memos show Pelosi blasts California Republicans for supporting tax bill MORE. Likewise, former President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaReport: FCC chair to push for complete repeal of net neutrality Right way and wrong way Keystone XL pipeline clears major hurdle despite recent leak MORE won twice in the state.

Gillespie's victory on Tuesday means that he will face off against Democrat Ralph Northam, the state's lieutenant governor, in November. Like Gillespie, Northam is closely aligned with the establishment wing of his party. He beat out former Rep. Tom Perriello, a progressive backed by Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersDe Blasio headed to Iowa to speak at political fundraiser Yes, spills happen — but pipelines are still the safest way to move oil Why sexual harassment discussions include lawmakers talking about Bill Clinton’s past MORE (I-Vt.).

Gillespie is well-seasoned in Virginia politics. In a 2014 bid for the U.S. Senate, he narrowly missed a victory over incumbent Sen. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerTech beefs up lobbying amid Russia scrutiny Overnight Tech: Senate Dems want FCC chief recused from Sinclair merger | Tech rallies on Capitol Hill for DACA | Facebook beefs up lobbying ranks Facebook adds two lobbyists amid Russia probe MORE (D), a former Virginia governor, who has served in the Senate since 2009.

Stewart, on the other hand, built his political career at the local level and currently serves as the chairman of the Prince William County Board of Supervisors in Northern Virginia.