PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — They say “anger” is a powerful motivator, and on Tuesday it appeared that voters organized, got out the vote and sent an angry message that they aren’t happy with the current president or the Republican candidates running for statewide office.
“The 73rd governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, Ralph Northam,” announced Ralph Northam’s wife Pam on Tuesday night, as the governor-elect took the stage in a student center at George Mason University.
The site was chosen in part because it’s in voter-rich Northern Virginia, where young voters were pivotal to victory.
On Wednesday, Governor-Elect Northam met with reporters and explained why he won.
“We ran a positive campaign on jobs, education, health care, a clean environment, safety and inclusivity,” Northam said. “That is what resonated, and that’s what they voted for yesterday. That’s the Virginia way, and that’s what we are going to do moving forward.”
The mild-mannered man sold voters on who he is, and how he will govern, even to the more than one million people who did not vote for him.
“I have taken care of thousands of children and their families over the years, and no one has ever asked me if I am a Democrat or Republican, nor have I asked them, and that’s the way I plan to govern.”
Northam laid out the blueprint for his administration, and what’s important to him: “I want to promote diversity across the Commonwealth…work as hard as we can to fight against discrimination and to level the playing field in Virginia.”
Government efficiency is a top priority, too: “It’s been a while since someone came in and looked at our agencies to see what was working well, and what could be improved upon.”
Healthcare, for this doctor who has taken care of sick children and their families for 15 years, is really close to his heart.
“I remind people no individual, no family, should be one medical illness away from financial demise, so I am intent on making sure all Virginia families have quality and affordable health care,” Northam said.
His first news conference went smoother than the first minute of his victory speech Tuesday night.
During a 10 On Your Side report last week, Northam first announced he is opposed to sanctuary cities. Republican candidate Ed Gillespie charged Northam with flip-flopping on the sanctuary city issue from previous votes he had made.
In response, a handful of protesters shouted and carried signs, and were physically removed from the ballroom. One was grabbed by the back of the neck by security.
The always good-natured Northam returned.
“We are back by popular demand,” Northam said to great applause and laughter.
Northam told reporters that tone, and policies by Donald Trump and Ed Gillespie, sealed his victory. “The divisiveness, the hatred, the bigotry, the politics that is tearing apart this country, that is not the United States of America that people love.”
Northam was tame in his critique. Current Governor Terry McAuliffe? Not so.
“This was a huge rejection of Trump, of Ed’s negative ads and affirmation of everything we have gotten done over the last four years…that’s what you saw tonight,” McAuliffe said. “They didn’t only lose, they got clobbered.”
Exit polling was clear. Democrats, independents, and moderate voters appeared to want to tidy up unfinished business from last November’s presidential election that brought Donald Trump to power.
Northam says this is what Virginians care about, and why he won: “They want to focus on the economy, they want to focus on Virginians having a job, so they can support themselves and their families.”
In the end, we know winning the election is always easier than governing.
“My fellow Virginians, the hard work of governing begins. Let’s get to work. May God bless you, and may God bless the Commonwealth of Virginia,” Northam said to great applause.