Democratic candidate Ralph Northam (Picture: Ralph Northam for Virginia Governor)
Political pundits across the US are coming to the final stretch before the most important nominating vote of the year.
Gubernatorial candidates in Virginia and New Jersey are fighting over the suburbs and college towns of the ‘Old Confederacy’ ahead of the midterm elections in November.
There are fourteen states that have yet to hold their primaries – some as late as June.
The winner of the Virginia election on Tuesday will go on to face Donald Trump’s Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, in the national election in November.
Who is Ralph Northam?
Ralph Northam, a state senator, is running as a left-leaning moderate Democrat against strong political attack from his competitor Justin Fairfax.
He has attracted endorsements from many well-known figures from Washington and the left, including David Brock, former Democratic National Committee chairwoman Donna Brazile, former President Barack Obama and Minority Leader in the Senate, Chuck Schumer.
Northam is a former Army doctor who served in Afghanistan and Iraq and is running on his military record as well as his experience as a state senator for a decade.
He says he would reverse the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which Obama was attempting to pass last year, and brings up the possibility of states applying for waivers from federal education standards.
(Picture: David Shankbone)
Fairfax, a state senator, is running to his progressive image and a pledge to put Black Lives Matter activists in charge of the Virginia Department of Public Safety.
He is also running a campaign that includes aggressive push back on Trump.
In a tweet last week, he accused the President of ‘supporting vile and brutal’ White Nationalist groups in the lead up to Charlottesville.
You should be ashamed. This isn’t who we are. This isn’t what we represent. No, Mr President, no.
(Picture: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
What are the stakes?
Former Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe is running for re-election this year and is facing off against Republican Corey Stewart, the head of a right-wing militia group.
If either one of these elections go ahead, as expected, the Democratic Party could gain control of the Virginia House of Delegates.
Donald Trump has never won a state in a presidential election – and the only time he won a state in a presidential election was Virginia.
At the moment there are 57 Republicans and 42 Democrats in the state house, and 28 Republicans and 14 Democrats in the state senate.
If the Republicans cannot hold onto any one of these seats, they could be completely wiped out in the midterm elections this year.
When is the primary?
The Democrats will have their nomination in the Virginia Democratic Party Primary on Tuesday, 14 February.
The general election will be held on 4 November.
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