RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Democratic state Sen. Ralph Northam on Tuesday defeated Republican E.W. Jackson for Virginia's lieutenant governor, in a race sharply defined by social issues.
Northam, 54, beat Jackson in a campaign that centered on Northam's defense of abortion rights and Jackson's Christian-based anti-abortion platform. Jackson also opposes gay marriage, while Northam supports it.
Northam, a pediatric neurologist from Norfolk, succeeds Republican Bill Bolling. A Democrat hasn't occupied the office since U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine was lieutenant governor in 2006.
The lieutenant governor presides over the state Senate and casts a ballot on tie votes.
Northam was overshadowed in the usually low-key race for lieutenant governor by continuing media revelations about Jackson, 61, drawn from his book "Ten Commandments to an Extraordinary Life" and statements made on the campaign. The lawyer-turned-preacher compared the fight against abortion, for example, to slavery. Some specifics about upbringing in a foster home and his business claims were also publicly questioned.
Northam called Jackson's conservative views on social issues divisive and wayward. The economy and jobs should be at the forefront, he said.
"That rigid ideology, there's no place for that in Virginia," Northam said in an interview with The Associated Press before his win Tuesday.
For his part, Jackson, 61, called coverage of his campaign "completely unfair." He claimed his words had been twisted and said many reporters were "not comfortable" with someone whose world view is formed by Christian teachings.
Lieutenant governors have no voice in legislative issues short of casting tie-breaking votes in the 40-seat Senate.
Northam said he would focus on economic development, health care and mental health issues. "Finally, if I could leave my mark on Virginia in any way, it would be to have access for all children to pre-K education," he said. Early education, regardless of family's resources, gives everyone a "fair start," he added.
Both men professed confidence their party's nominee would win the governor's race. But each said they would find a way to serve with a governor who didn't share his political party.
Northam said he has worked with Republicans in the Senate and could do it as lieutenant governor.
"I don't play the political game," he said. "I'm there to do what's in the best interests of Virginia, and I'll continue to work with both sides of the aisle."