Democrat Ralph Northam won Tuesday’s gubernatorial election in Virginia, ensuring the “brick wall” against Republican attacks on reproductive freedoms in the state will extend for at least one more term.
Northam’s win comes after an increasingly tight and divisive race. Immigration became a contentious issue between the campaigns down the stretch. Gillespie and his campaign were criticized for rolling out campaign videos that some said were intended to stoke fears that immigrants posed a public danger to Virginians. After Northam voiced his opposition to sanctuary cities, despite having voted against a bill banning them in the state and the fact that none exist in Virginia, progressive organization Democracy for America pulled their “direct aid” for Northam.
Democratic National Chair Tom Perez appeared in support of Northam in the final days of the campaign after Northam’s flip-flop on sanctuary cities. Volunteers turned out to participate in get-out-the-vote efforts in support of the candidate. According to the Northam campaign, 12,515 volunteers knocked on 580,537 doors in the state over the weekend in support of the Democratic ticket.
Northam has been a longtime advocate for reproductive health care. While serving in the state legislature, he opposed GOP-initiated efforts to institute forced ultrasounds and later introduced measures to roll back the law. He vowed to maintain the “brick wall” McAuliffe and his administration had maintained against Republican-led attacks on reproductive rights in Virginia.
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Gillespie, in contrast, said he would to sign a bill to defund Planned Parenthood—an effort vetoed twice by McAuliffe—should one cross his desk. During an April candidate forum, Gillespie said he “would like to see abortion be banned” and has voiced support for restrictions such as a 20-week ban. But it isn’t just abortion he opposes—Gillespie reportedly sat on the board of advocacy group Conscience Cause, which was formed in an effort to halt the Affordable Care Act’s birth control benefit.
These positions motivated both pro-choice and anti-choice groups to invest in the races.
NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia knocked on more than 14,000 doors over the weekend, according to a release from the group. The reproductive rights organization endorsed Northam in the state’s Democratic primary and gave financial backing to the candidate and others in his party down ballot. Meanwhile, Planned Parenthood Votes and Planned Parenthood Virginia PAC together waged a $3 million ground campaign that contacted more than 515,000 voters door-to-door in support of their candidates, according to a memo from the organizations.
The anti-choice organization Susan B. Anthony List contacted at least 171,000 Virginia residents in support of the candidates they supported.