The Democratic nominee in Virginia’s closely watched race for governor, Northam is banking heavily on his career as a pediatric neurologist and Army doctor who volunteered for two decades at a children’s hospice. It’s a strategy that may work, as most polls show Northam with a small but consistent lead over Republican Ed Gillespie.
But Northam has been less sure-footed when it comes to how he’ll handle Trump, alternating between presenting himself as a fighter and a pragmatist. That approach has frustrated some Democrats and provided an opening for Republican attacks.
Friends and colleagues say Northam has always been motivated by a genuine desire to help people, not to advance a political career.