Despite enjoying direct support from US President Donald Trump, Republican contenders have lost three major head to head battles with their Democratic rivals in the gubernatorial elections of New York, New Jersey and Virginia.
Trump put much effort into getting Republican Ed Gillespie elected as Virginia’s next governor but his hopes were crushed after Ralph Northam, the Democratic nominee, emerged as the winner in the Tuesday vote.
Northam won the face-off by scoring 54 percent of the votes, compared to Gillespie’s 45 percent.
Before the election, Trump tweeted support for Gillespie, saying that electing “Ralph Northam will allow crime to be rampant in Virginia.”
But if the Republican wins, Trump said, “MS-13 and crime will be gone,” referring to a notorious street gang that Gillespie’s campaign used as a scare tactic to attract more support.
Gillespie, however, never mentioned Trump’s name during his concession speech, prompting criticism from the president. “Ed Gillespie worked hard but did not embrace me or what I stand for,” Trump fired off in a tweet on Tuesday night.
The other major defeat for the Trump camp on Tuesday happened in New York City, where Democrat Bill de Blasio was comfortably re-elected as the mayor of Trump’s hometown. Trump and his wife, Melania, both cast absentee ballots in the election, probably in favor of Republican candidate Nicole Malliotakis.
Although it remains unclear who the Trumps voted for, it would seem unlikely that Trump would support de Blasio, who he has repeatedly blasted in the past.
“We’re stuck with the worst mayor in the United States,” Trump claimed in a 2015 tweet. “Too bad, but New York City will survive!”
During the buildup to the race, de Blasio’s campaign asked voters to make donations as small as $5, because his GOP opponent was raising more funds using “President Trump’s massive email list.”
Malliotakis spokesman Rob Ryan denied later on that her campaign had used Trump’s resources.
Republicans suffered another governorship defeat on Tuesday, when New Jersey Democrat Phil Murphy beat Kim Guadagno to become the state’s new governor.
He will replace Republican Chris Christie, a close Trump ally who was in office for eight years.
The results have stirred concern in the Republican camp, as they provide a sneak peek into the midterm congressional elections next year, where they have to defend their slim 52-48 Senate majority against Democrats.