Virginia gubernatorial candidates Northam and Gillespie debate last year. Photo: Steve Helber / AP
"The Democratic National Committee gathered [in Vegas] over the past week with one worry on every activist's mind: We'd better not lose the Virginia governor's race" 15 days from now, the WashPost's Dave Weigel and Ed O'Keefe write on A1.
Why it matters: "Defeat in Virginia could ... prompt another brawl between progressive activists and the party's establishment. Northam ... won his nomination over Sen. Bernie Sanders-backed former congressman Tom Perriello — a race that some activists saw as a replay of the 2016 Democratic presidential primaries."
More from the minds of Dems:
- "It's a surprising case of the jitters over a place that hasn't elected a Republican to statewide office in eight years — and that voted resoundingly against Donald Trump last year. But nationally, Democrats haven't won a marquee race since losing the presidency. They lag Republicans in fundraising."
- "A loss for Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam against Republican Ed Gillespie on Nov. 7 could stir doubts about message and strategy just as the party is gearing up nationally for next year's ... midterm elections."
Be smart: Axios' Mike Allen lives in Virginia and covered Old Dominion politics in his well-spent youth, so he hears a lot about this race. He says: "The Real Clear Politics average has Northam, the Democrat, ahead by 5.8 points. Most people I talk to in both parties assume he'll win: Gillespie is the underdog because Trump plays so poorly in 'vote-rich Northern Virginia.'"
- But some Republicans who have been pessimistic are now more hopeful that there are silent pockets of Trump voters in rural areas who could make this more of a brawl than polls have suggested.