DNC chair expresses confidence in Virginia gov race

Trump factor looms large in Virginia race
Trump factor looms large in Virginia race

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Trump factor looms large in Virginia race 02:49

Story highlights

  • Polls have consistently shown the race to be tightening over the past few weeks
  • Perez said Americans will "find out later today" if voting patterns have changed since Trump was elected

Washington (CNN)Democratic National Committee chairman Tom Perez expressed confidence Tuesday over his party's chances in Virginia's closely watched gubernatorial race, despite tightening polling and divisions within the party.

As several key state races began on Tuesday, Perez said media reports of the party's fragmentation -- including former DNC interim chair Donna Brazile's recent claim that Hillary Clinton's campaign engaged in an unethical agreement to finance the DNC in exchange for influence over the party's operations -- are overstated. He also cited voter reaction to Virginia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tom Perriello's loss in the primary as "a perfect example of Democrats coming together."
"The media wrote the exact wrong story," he told CNN's "New Day." "They wrote, 'Oh, it's going to be another Bernie/Hillary proxy battle.' What happened was two great candidates ran a spirited campaign talking about the issues and it resulted in record turnout on the Democratic side. When Tom Perriello was not successful, he immediately pivoted and came together and that unity has been evident ever since."
    Unity, however, may not be enough for Democrats to score a victory in Virginia.
    While it was once assumed to be an easy win for Democrats a few months ago, polls have consistently shown the race tightening over the past few weeks.
    Perez suggested a slim margin wouldn't be uncommon, given that Virginia is a swing state.
    "(Virginia Democratic Sen.) Mark Warner won, I think, by less than 1% in 2014," the former Labor secretary said.
    Perez said Americans will "find out later today" if voting patterns have changed since President Donald Trump was elected, but he maintained his confidence in the party's success in Virginia, given the grassroots efforts made in the state.
    "We've knocked on over a million doors -- twice as many as what (current Virginia Democratic Gov.) Terry McAuliffe did, and he did a great job four years ago," he said. "The energy out there in northern Virginia, across the entire commonwealth, is infectious."