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Democrats seize Virginia and New Jersey governorships in elections seen as precursors of 2018 fights

Gov.-elect Ralph Northam, right, and Lt. Gov.-elect Justin Fairfax greet supporters at a Democratic election night rally in Fairfax, Va. (Win McNamee / Getty Images)
Gov.-elect Ralph Northam, right, and Lt. Gov.-elect Justin Fairfax greet supporters at a Democratic election night rally in Fairfax, Va. (Win McNamee / Getty Images)

Democrat Ralph Northam swept to victory in the race for Virginia governor on Tuesday in a night of political retaliation against President Trump that also saw a Democratic gubernatorial win in New Jersey.

Northam’s victory sketched out a path that Democratic strategists hope other candidates can follow in next year’s contest for control of Congress.

He piled up big margins in the suburbs of northern Virginia, the most populous and voter-rich area of the state, where animosity toward the president runs deep. At the same time, Northam, the lieutenant governor, also fared better than many Democrats have in more rural areas, preventing the Republican candidate, Ed Gillespie, from running up the score in the southern and western areas of the state, where Trump trounced Hillary Clinton one year ago.

Democrats also picked up more than a dozen seats in the Virginia House of Delegates, putting them close to a majority in the lower house with several races undecided — a result that few political analysts or state Democrats had thought likely.

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