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Virginia race set the tone for tide of Democratic victories

Democrats are walking a little taller after Election Day delivered a number of wins -- a far cry from the bitter defeats of 2016. Ralph Northam won a promotion to governor in the state of Virginia, setting the tone for other statewide races carried by Democrats in the Trump era. Judy Woodruff reports.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    From the White House on down, they are still digesting Tuesday's election results and analyzing the possible Trump effect.

    But two things are already clear: Democrats are walking a little taller, and Republicans are licking their wounds.

  • Tom Perez:

    The Democratic Party is back, my friends!


  • Judy Woodruff:

    For Democrats, the election night celebrations were a far cry from the bitter defeats one year ago.

    Virginia set the tone: Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam won a promotion with his party's first major victory in the Trump era. The governor-elect and pediatrician said the Old Dominion answered the call.

  • Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam:

    Virginia has told us to end the divisiveness, that we will not condone hatred and bigotry, and to end the politics that have torn this country apart.


  • Judy Woodruff:

    Northam easily defeated Republican Ed Gillespie, 54 percent to 45 percent, to keep the governor's mansion Democratic.

    Gillespie had kept President Trump at arm's length, but shared his positions, highlighting immigrant crime and defending Confederate monuments. The president did tweet several times in favor of Gillespie, and recorded a late robo-call of support.

    But from South Korea today, Mr. Trump dished criticism, tweeting that "Gillespie worked hard, but didn't embrace me or what I stand for."

    The Democratic tide in Virginia also carried other statewide races and added 14 seats in the House of Delegates. Democrats need just three more seats with a handful of races yet to be called to retake the chamber for the first time in two decades.

    One of the winners was Danica Roem, the first openly transgender candidate to win a seat in any state legislature.

  • Danica Roem:

    We won because I am a transgender woman, because I am a reporter, because I am lifelong resident of Manassas, because of my inherent identifiers, not despite them. I never ran away from them. I championed them.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Roem ousted Republican Bob Marshall, one of the state's most conservative legislators. He had sponsored a bill that would limit the bathrooms used by transgender people.

    Meanwhile, in New Jersey, Democrat Philip Murphy won the governor's race, in a pickup for the party. The former Goldman Sachs executive capitalized on deep discontent with Republican Governor Chris Christie, who was term-limited.

  • Philip Murphy:

    Tonight, we declare the days of division are over. We will move forward together. This is exactly who we are, New Jersey. We have each other's backs.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Across the country, in Washington state, Democrats retook the state Senate. That move solidified the blue wall of Democratic legislative majorities up and down the West Coast.

    Big city Democratic mayors also won reelection, in New York, Boston and Detroit. All are critics of President Trump. And in another slap at the president's policies, Maine voted to expand Medicaid under Obamacare.

    Here in Washington today, Republican senators from West Virginia's Shelley Moore Capito to Colorado's Cory Gardner offered differing explanations for the defeat.

  • Sen. Cory Gardner:

    I think what this shows is that we have to make sure we provide results for the American people.

  • Rep. Shelley Moore Capito:

    We need to tighten up our message. We really need to come through with what we said we're going to do.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Others in the GOP blamed the losses on candidates not fully backing the president.

    And we will hear from the head of the Democratic Party, and a top Trump White House official, right after the news summary.

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