Anti-Trump sentiment comes to fruition in local election victories

Maddie Boone, Opinions Co-Editor

Nov. 7 marked a number of major wins for the Democratic Party in the first major election since President Donald Trump took office. In Virginia and New Jersey, Democratic candidates Lt. Gov. Ralph S. Northam and Philip D. Murphy won elections for governor of their respective states.

Northam’s election represents a vote for continued support of the Democratic party. Incumbent Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe remains widely popular, as do the state’s two Democratic senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine. Northam’s Republican opponent Ed Gillespie lost to Northam in the widest gubernatorial victory for a Democratic candidate in Virginia in decades, leading by nearly nine percentage points.

Northam’s win was accompanied by a Democratic sweep of a number of other state offices, including lieutenant governor and attorney general. Virginia was watched especially closely following the racially-charged protests that took place earlier this year in Charlottesville that shook the country.

“Virginia has told us to end the divisiveness, that we will not condone hatred and bigotry, and to end the politics that have torn this country apart,” Northam said in his victory speech. This Democratic win signaled a sign of change from the divisive and angry populist messages coming from the White House.

In New Jersey, Murphy ran on a campaign that was anti-Trump and anti-Christie. Murphy, a previous Goldman Sachs executive with no experience in office, brought an end to former governor Chris Christie’s tumultuous eight-year reign. Murphy’s contender and Christie’s second-in-command, Republican candidate Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, was easily defeated with a margin of 56 to 43 percent.

This marks a great deal of change in the state of New Jersey, as it moves much farther left with a candidate who has advocated for the legalization of marijuana, a $15 minimum wage, and a promise to stand up to Trump. Murphy appears somewhat of a complete opposite of incumbent Christie what with his interest and willingness to raise taxes on the state’s wealthy, support of gun control, and embrace of unions.

These Democratic victories have been seen by many as repudiation of the White House and thus as a consequence for what Republican Representative Scott Taylor calls Trump’s “divisive rhetoric.” Both Murphy and Northam positioned themselves directly against Trump, calling him out for some of his more aggressive stances and inappropriate statements. Indeed, these wins in the Democratic party may be representative of a larger anti-Trump sentiment among voters. However, there is still a lot of work to be done, as much more will be needed to propel Democrats to victory in the 2018 elections.

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