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Voters in New Jersey and Virginia to pick new governors

By in Press Enterprise on November 7, 2017

By The Associated Press

By ALAN SUDERMAN and MICHAEL CATALINI

RICHMOND, Va. — Voters in New Jersey and Virginia are choosing new governors Tuesday in contests that could be an early referendum on President Donald Trump.

In swing-state Virginia, most polls show a close race between Republican Ed Gillespie and Democratic Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam. New Jersey will get a successor to unpopular GOP Gov. Chris Christie in the race between Democrat Phil Murphy and Republican Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno. Murphy holds a double-digit lead in polls over Guadagno.

The stakes are high as both parties seek momentum ahead of next year’s mid-term elections. Democrats haven’t won any special elections for Congress this year and the next Virginia governor will have a major say in the state’s next round of redistricting, when Congressional lines are drawn. Republicans are looking for a boost as their party is beset by intraparty turmoil between Trump and key Republicans in Congress.

Incumbent governors in both states, Democrat Terry McAuliffe in Virginia and Christie in New Jersey, are term-limited.

Virginia’s race has been an often ugly slugfest that political observers say has been more racially charged than past contests in recent memory. Outside groups on both sides have spent millions to influence the outcome and called on high-profile surrogates, including former President Barack Obama and Vice President Mike Pence.

At Jahnke Road Baptist Church in suburban Richmond, Virginia, 39-year-old Angelica Bega said she was uncertain who she would vote for until she was handed a ballot, but she ultimately voted for Northam.

“I was pretty split right down to when I voted,” she said. “I was very on the fence. I’m an issues-driven voter and it was very frustrating to see the attack ads and the emotional appeals that dominated the campaign.”

One tipping issue, she said, was immigration. “I don’t think immigration is a big […]    

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