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Virginia primary to help gauge US political mood under Trump

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His pitch to voters is emotional, saying Trump's victory signaled a new moment in American politics and a more progressive pushback is needed.

In a crowded room at George Mason University a few days ago, Republicans from across Northern Virginia who gathered to hear the three Republicans running for lieutenant governor heard something a little different - a Republican candidate who is campaigning on her ability to break with the GOP and vote with Democrats.

Party officials, and many Democratic voters, say that whoever wins, the emphasis should be on defeating the GOP nominee this November, with the goal of delivering a shock to the White House.

Virginians aren't required to declare a political party when they register to vote, but when they check in for Tuesday's primary they will have to say whether they want a Democratic or Republican ballot. Gillespie is former chairman of both the state party and the national party. But there has been less attention given to the fact McAuliffe, coming off a successful tenure in a state lately trending more Democratic, seems also to have his eye on 2020.

The former congressman from Charlottesville made his anti-Trump message a priority early on, and he told NPR that was a big reason why he chose to get in the contest.

He said the bigger problem has been voters not being aware they had to pick a Republican or Democratic ballot. Bernie Sanders and his political organization, "Our Revolution", along with a laundry list of former aides to President Barack Obama. A Stewart win would be equally shocking.

"I started working at the age of 12 in my family grocery store stocking shelves and sweeping floors and bagging groceries", Gillespie said. "I'm kind of irritated that people who we like and admire are getting rolled over by some national politics and outside funding".

Lt. Gov. Northam has a more limited voice that makes it more hard for him to command a big crowd, which is where Mr. Perriello shines. Mr Perriello has been endorsed by Mr Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, the leaders of the populist left, and raised millions of dollars from their supporters.

Voter registrars on and around the Peninsula reported no Election Day problems with light turnout for Tuesday's primary elections. Northam has emphasized his biography - rural upbringing, Army veteran, and pediatric neurologist - as well as his bona fides with key progressive groups that make up the Democratic base. He used those advantages to shore up support from numerous state Democratic Party's core constituencies, including teachers' groups and African-American political and religious leaders.

Seized the opportunity by ditching his moderate record in Congress, when he voted against federal funding for abortions and when he received money and support from the NRA.

Initially, Northam looked like he would sail through the primary as the heir-apparent to Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe.

Perriello said as governor he'd work to block the pipelines, while Northam has said only that they should be thoroughly reviewed before being approved. It is also clear, in the way Mr Northam has rushed to join Mr Periello's attacks on the president, that competitive beating up on Mr Trump will be another important element. Dave LaRock (R-33rd) joined Gillespie and expressed their support for the businessman and former Republican National Committee chairman. Gillespie, who enjoys the backing of most GOP state lawmakers, wants to put a share of future state revenue growth toward a modest income tax rate reduction. Stewart has tried to overcome his campaign's financial disadvantage by continually courting controversy, notably with a full-throated defense of Virginia's Confederate history and monuments.

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