Republican defeats seen as major setback for President Donald Trump
The Democratic establishment breathed a sigh of relief Tuesday night, scoring its first major victories since President Donald Trump won last year's race for the White House.
Securing at least one governorship in either Virginia or New Jersey was critical for the party after it lost all special elections to the House of Representatives since Trump was elected. They won both, according to media reports.
In New Jersey, Democrat Phil Murphy defeated Republican Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno to claim the governorship. Further south in Virginia, Republican Ed Gillespie was bested by Democratic Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam in a tight contest.
Trump had endorsed Gillespie, but as his defeat was nearing certainty, Trump took to Twitter to distance himself from the failed candidate.
"Ed Gillespie worked hard but did not embrace me or what I stand for. Don’t forget, Republicans won 4 out of 4 House seats, and with the economy doing record numbers, we will continue to win, even bigger than before!" he wrote during his first official trip to South Korea.
But in the swing state of New Jersey, Murphy, the Democratic victor, campaigned hard on being a force of opposition in the Trump era.
"We will rebuild our state from the bottom-up and the middle-out," the former U.S. ambassador to Germany said during his victory speech. "And we will ask those at the very top to do their fair share. That means a higher minimum wage, equal pay for equal work, tax fairness, and the real property tax relief that our middle class and seniors so desperately need."
Further down-ballot, Democrats continued to rack up victories across the country.
In America's largest city, New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio extended his mayorship with a Tuesday night victory. De Blasio styles himself as a hard progressive and campaigned with leftist-populist Bernie Sanders during the run-up to the poll.