Virginia Democratic candidate for governor, Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam, with his wife Pam, left, and son Weston, celebrate his victory in the Democratic primary during an election party in Crystal City, Va., Tuesday, June 13, 2017. N.
Voters also voted for nominees in the races for the state legislature and lieutenant governor. Stewart's strength reveals a still deeply fractured primary electorate - and shows Trump and support for his agenda still remain popular among the GOP faithful.
Northam beat opponent Tom Perriello, a one-time US representative for Virginia's 5th district, with roughly 55 percent of the vote statewide.
Mr. Perriello became the latest Bern victim, notching another loss for the senator from Vermont who electrified Democratic voters previous year but who has struggled to turn his movement into a winning electoral campaign.
Northam had the support of the state Democratic Party's core constituencies, including teachers groups and African-American political and religious leaders.
On the Republican side, former George W. Bush aide Gillespie campaigned off the goodwill he established with Republicans after his narrow loss to Democratic Sen.
Stewart, the chairman of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors, became known for what the Washington Post described as a "Confederate-centric bid."
Virginia is one of two states electing governors this year, and the race is testing the enthusiasm of the electorate in both parties in the wake of Trump's victory. Because you all said it couldn't be done. Now, whether or not Stewart supporters will turn out for Gillespie in November is a critical question.
Even before the primary, the Virginia election emerged as a swing-state referendum on Trump, who was defeated here by Hillary Clinton last November by 5 percentage points and remains deeply unpopular.
Isaac Smith, 21, of Charlottesville, who campaigned for Stewart, said Stewart's showing was "remarkable" given the fact that he was badly outspent. Perriello drilled him on the decision throughout the campaign.
On the Democratic side, attorney Justin Fairfax has snagged frontrunner status, with dozens of endorsements from state officials and a fundraising lead. Former RNC Chair Ed Gillespie won the Republican nomination in a close race. "I liked (Perriello) a lot, but I didn't think he could quite get enough people behind him in the general election".
In Richmond, Kelly Barrows cast her ballot for Perriello because she said the former congressman more closely aligns with her progressive views.
Northam, a well-liked pediatric neurologist, had a huge head start on Perriello on the trail and in money raised. "Today's primary concludes a nasty race to the left by Democrats, while Virginia Republicans emerge unified and ready to win".
"Virginia will be more hotly contested than ever", said Stephen Farnsworth, a University of Mary Washington political analyst.
Hyun Lee, 37, of Centreville, Virginia, who had done phone banking and knocked on doors for Northam, was one of the people at the party.
"Clearly he has a large base of followers, and they'll be looking for leadership, and I hope he'll rally them behind Ed".
"I am not going to overanalyze that statement, but I like it", said 80-year-old Jim Hensen, a retired Air Force master sergeant who backed Mr. Northam. "He cares for everyone". Polls have shown that Perriello has a slight lead in the race, but that lead may be contingent on unreliable pools of voters who usually sit primaries out. "[Perriello] proved there's a hunger in the Democratic for bold candidates", says Adam Green, a founder of the left-wing Progressive Change Campaign Committee.
Perriello ran against Northam as an unapologetic liberal crusader supported by prominent national Democrats like Sens.
"I don't know about you, but I am inspired to keep fighting tonight".