President is checked at home after advances by his political opponents
Trump snubbed as Virginia and New Jersey vote for Democrat governors
The Democratic candidate for governor of Virginia, Ralph Northam, has been elected in a key race that had attracted the attention of president Donald Trump, who tweeted derogatory statements against Mr Northam earlier on Tuesday. Mr Northam won the governorship by more than 200,000 votes against his Republican opponent Ed Gillespie.
In another snub to the president, in New Jersey the Democrat Phil Murphy topped Kim Guadagno to succeed his fellow Republican governor Chris Christie, an erstwhile ally of the president. In New York City, Democrat Bill De Blasio swept to a well-predicted victory in his campaign.
Mr Northam rode to victory in part by tapping into voters’ regret at Mr Trump’s victory in last year’s national election. The president tweeted after the election result was confirmed to say that his Republican comrade had not been sufficiently engaged in the Trump project.
“Ed Gillespie worked hard but did not embrace me or what I stand for. Don’t forget, Republicans won 4 out of 4 House seats, and with the economy doing record numbers, we will continue to win, even bigger than before!” the president tweeted.
Mr Murphy had an easier pathway in New Jersey, where Mr Guadagno contended with Mr Trump’s and Mr 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 a winning blueprint in blue-leaning states.
Across many states, the potential toxicity of Mr Trump came up. Joyce Craig vanquished Republican incumbent Ted Gatsas in Manchester, New Hampshire’s, closely watched mayoral race, making her the first woman to hold the position and putting a Democrat at the helm of the city for the first time in more than a decade.
In the race for the House of Delegates in Virginia, it seemed that the Democrats had turned around a Republican majority as they won seats in places that had previously been out of their ambition.
David Wasserman, from polling website FiveThirtyEight.com, said: “I never thought I’d be saying this, but by my back-of-the-envelope count, Democrats are currently in the lead to pick up Virginia’s House of Delegates. They started the night with 34 of 100 seats and have already picked up 12 GOP-held seats.
“There are eight more GOP-held seats that are still too close to call, and Democrats are currently in the lead in six of them. If those leads hold, the speaker of Virginia’s House of Delegates in 2018 will be a Democrat. Given the GOP’s aggressive gerrymander of Virginia’s delegate districts in 2011, this is what you’d call a tidal wave.