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Governor-elect Ralph Northam makes first appearance at Mason

November 8, 2017   /   by John Hollis

Ralph Northam made his first public appearance as the newly elected governor of Virginia at George Mason University, delivering his victory speech to an enthusiastic room full of senior Democratic Party officials, supporters and more than 100 media members.

The state’s current lieutenant governor rode an expected strong showing in voter-rich Northern Virginia to claim nearly 54 percent of the vote, beating Republican rival Ed Gillespie in the nation’s most closely watched election. Northam becomes the 73rd governor of the Commonwealth and the fourth Democrat to claim the office in the last five elections.

Media outlets began calling the race for Northam a little after 8 p.m., but it was roughly two hours later when the former U.S. Army doctor and pediatrician appeared and addressed the capacity crowd of 850 at the Hub Ballroom on Mason’s Fairfax Campus.

“In Virginia, it’s going to take a doctor to heal our differences,” Northam said. “I’m here to let you know the doctor is in. The doctor will be on call the next four years.”

Northam will succeed outgoing Gov. Terry McAuliffe in January.

“Tonight was a wake-up call for the country,” McAuliffe said. “No longer are we going to stand back. We are going to fight for every person in this country.”

The win was a much-needed one for the Democratic Party in wake of big losses in last year’s presidential and congressional elections and looming mid-term elections in 2018.

Party leaders, including Democratic National Committee chairman Tom Perez, U.S. Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, and a handful of U.S. congressmen characterized the night’s stunning depth of political victories as a rebuke of President Donald Trump.

“Ed Gillespie didn’t run as himself and that was the problem,” said Schar School Dean Mark. J. Rozell. “He’s really a conservative Republican, but he tried to run as a Donald Trump populist and it just didn’t work for him.”

Northam’s victory was the coup-de-grace of a banner night for the Virginia Democratic Party as Justin Fairfax and incumbent Mark Herring capped the evening’s statewide sweep with their wins in the races for lieutenant governor and attorney general, respectively.

Fairfax defeated Jill Vogel, while Herring edged John Adams.

Virginia Governor-elect Ralph Northam addresses the crowd at an Election Night Watch Party hosted by the Democratic Party of Virginia at George Mason University. Photo by Ron Aira.