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Steve Helber / AP

Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam beat former congressman Tom Perriello handily Tuesday night to become the Democratic nominee to replace Terry McAuliffe as Virginia's governor.

In a surprise twist, the closer race was on the Republican side as Ed Gillespie, the former RNC chairman and senior George W. Bush aide, only beat Corey Stewart by some 4,000 votes — a one point margin. Stewart served for a time as Donald Trump's campaign chairman in Virginia, and is perhaps best known for controversial comments like this:

A tweet previously embedded here has been deleted or was tweeted from an account that has been suspended or deleted.

Two days before the election he filmed a video praising a Confederate general as one of his personal heroes.

The Democratic race was viewed as something of a proxy war within the party, as Northam was backed by most of the big names in Virginia politics but Perriello received endorsements from Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

As NBC News' Mark Murray points out, "Perriello tried to start out as the anti-Trump candidate. But Northam quickly neutralized that with 'narcissistic maniac,'" (a reference to a line about Trump in one of Northam's campaign ads).

One big thing: Turnout. Nearly 200,000 more Democrats voted than Republicans — it's clear which party is more energized.

Smart take, via the NYT"s Alex Burns: "Stewart's showing against Gillespie will probably weigh on the minds of mainstream GOPers thinking about that Senate race vs. Kaine in 2018"

Go deeper

Media giants back Bannon's bid to release Jan. 6 documents

Former Trump adviser Steve Bannon at the FBI Washington Field Office in Washington, DC., in November. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

A coalition of news outlets including the Washington Post is supporting Stephen Bannon's campaign for the release of documents related to his contempt of Congress charges, WashPost confirmed Wednesday.

Why it matters: WashPost, the New York Times, CNN, NBC, the Wall Street Journal's parent company and others filed a motion arguing that a proposed protective order seeking to prevent the documents from being released violates the First Amendment, per the Daily Mail, which first reported on the news.

Symone Sanders leaving VP's office

Vice President Kamala Harris and her press secretary Symone Sanders. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Symone Sanders, senior advisor and chief spokesperson to Vice President Kamala Harris, is leaving the VP’s office by the end of this year, three White House officials told Axios on Wednesday.

Why it matters: The VP has faced an onslaught of criticism in her first year centered on her leadership and staff, adding to the suggestion, she’s not the Democratic Party’s preferred nominee for 2024.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
Updated 3 hours ago - Health

Omicron travel bans are sign of what's to come

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The travel bans and border closures prompted by the Omicron variant likely won't fully prevent its spread, but that won't stop countries from leaning on the measures.

Why it matters: The rapid speed at which countries turned to travel bans with the emergence of Omicron indicates border controls will increasingly become a weapon against infectious disease — whether or not public health experts agree they are effective.