Voters headed to the polls Tuesday for an off-year election day and elected Terry McAuliffe (D) over Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II (R) in the Virginia gubernatorial race. There was also a mayoral race in New York City and a governor’s race in New Jersey, among others, and an attorney general’s race in Virginia that looks to be headed towards a recount. Find all the news here.
Fairfax voters elected the first female sheriff in the county’s history Tuesday, as Stacey Kincaid, a 26-year veteran of the sheriff’s department, cruised to a double-digit lead over her closest oppon...
Democrat Mark Herring, who trails a very close attorney general’s race in Virginia, said late Tuesday that he’s not conceding the race and suggested he might request a recount.
“The race for attorney general is razor-close, and the commonwealth has a process to make sure all the votes are counted, and we are going to make sure we go through that process,” Herring told reporters. “Right now it’s basically 50-50, and the numbers have been moving in our direction all night. The race is far from over. And we are going to make sure we follow the process and make sure every single vote is counted … and we will have more tomorrow.”
Herring didn’t say specifically whether he would ask for a recount, which he can ask for if the margin is less than 1 percent.
The latest results show both Herring and Republican Mark Obenshain at 50.0 percent with 99 percent of precincts reporting. Obenshain led by less than 800 votes.
Democrats won the other two big-ticket statewide races in Virginia on Tuesday, in the governor’s race and the lieutenant governor’s race.
In Play takes a closer look at the big themes of the night from Virginia and New Jersey.
Virginia Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling (R), who refused to endorse Ken Cuccinelli, used his fellow Republican’s loss as a chance to call for some Republican reevaluation.
Bolling was the establishment favorite in the gubernatorial primary, but Cuccinelli’s supporters forced a convention that led the lieutenant governor to drop out of the race.
“As a Republican, I am deeply disappointed that our party has lost control of our state’s top two elected offices,” Bolling said in a statement. “There are clear lessons in these losses for the Republican Party. Going forward, we need to have an open and honest conversation about the future of our party and determine what we must do to reconnect with a more diverse voter base whose support is critical to political success in Virginia.”
He congratulated Terry McAuliffe and Ralph Northam on their victories and pledged “to help them in any way I can.” He said he would not comment on the tight race for attorney general, which has not yet been called.
The last major race of the night — the Virginia attorney general’s race — could be headed for a recount.
With 99 percent of precincts reporting, Republican Mark Obenshain leads Democrat Mark Herring by just more than 1,000 votes. But the race is so close that each candidate’s vote total rounds to 50.0 percent.
There is no automatic recount in Virginia, but the losing candidate may request one if the difference is less than 1 percent.
Minutes after Obenshain’s staff said he would appear in the ballroom at the Richmond Marriott to address what’s left of the crowd, Republican Party of Virginia chairman Pat Mullins announced that the candidate will not make a speech because the party is preparing for a recount. (However, Mullins also put out a statement congratulating Obenshain “on his win tonight.”) Herring will not speak either.
Obenshain’s fate looms large for the GOP, which lost the other two statewide offices on the ballot — governor and lieutenant governor.
Obenshain would also be positioned to be the GOP’s 2017 gubernatorial candidate were he to win.
Edison, which conducted the exit polls in Virginia on Tuesday, has said it will not declare a winner tonight.
Ken Cuccinelli campaign strategist Chris La Civita said that among the what if’s in the wake of the Republican’s loss were whether Cuccinelli would have been able to pull out a win if he had received more financial support from national GOP sources – which dried up as of Oct. 1, he said — and if the federal government shutdown had been avoided or brought to a rapid close.
“There are a lot of questions people are going to be asking and that is, was leaving Cuccinelli alone in the first week of October, a smart move?” La Civita said in an interview following his candidate’s concession speech. “We were on our own. Just look at the volume [of ads].”
And yet, he said, the campaign closed to within a point and a half as Cuccinelli picked up momentum after the shutdown and the nation’s attention turned to the bungled implementation of the Affordable Care Act.
“There was definitely a national mood that was moving, that is moving, that is continuing to move against the White House and the Affordable Care Act. And I can’t help but ask myself, what would have been the result had he had five weeks of this discussion instead of just 2 ½?”
Update 12:03 a.m.: Republican National Committee spokeswoman Kirsten Kukowski responds:
“The RNC spent millions of dollars to fund the ground game efforts in both New Jersey and Virginia, working in coordination with both campaigns to identify and turnout voters.”
The RNC is also out with a memo playing up its ground game in the two governor’s races this year.
Ken Cuccinelli carried married men and married women by single digits, according to preliminary exit polls. He lost women overall by 9 points. Where he fell behind by massive margins was among unmarried people, in particular unmarried women.
Unmarried men favored McAuliffe over Cuccinelli by almost two dozen points and unmarried women by more than 40. The only solace Republicans can take — and it’s not much of one — is that Cuccinelli’s dreadful performance among unmarried voters was significantly worse than that of Mitt Romney in Virginia in the 2012 presidential election; Romney lost single men by 16 points and single women by 29. The lesson for Republicans is that while they don’t need to win unmarried voters, who are still heavily outnumbered by married ones, they can’t lose anywhere close to as badly as Cuccinelli did and hope to win a statewide election in Virginia.
Edison Media estimates that 2,180,000 people voted in today’s gubernatorial election in Virginia, about 37 percent of the eligible population. That’s slightly higher than in 2009, when 36.1 percent of eligible voters went to the polls. But it pales in comparison to 2012, when 66.4 percent of eligible voters turned out.
In a 15-minute speech to a crowd of Democrats who had been waiting months for this moment, McAuliffe thanked his family, staff and the voters for giving him the office he had been running for essentially nonstop for roughly five years.
McAuliffe repeatedly pledged to work in bipartisan, pragmatic fashion, praising the examples set by the last two Democratic governors – current Sens. Mark Warner and Timothy M. Kaine – as well as Gov. Robert McDonnell (R), whose sweeping transportation package McAuliffe backed.
“To the hundreds of thousands of supporters of Ken Cuccinelli and Mr. Sarvis,” he said, “I understand that emotions are raw. I have been there, I get it. So while I promise you tonight that I will be a governor for all Virginians … I expect you to hold me to my pledge.”
McAuliffe praised Cuccinelli for his public service and for the sacrifice he made to run for office.
Stressing the need for Virginians to come together, McAuliffe quoted Virginia hero Thomas Jefferson – who won the presidency after a contentious 1800 election – for saying “every difference of opinion is not a difference of principle.”
Though he acknowledged he and Cuccinelli had “some very big differences on some very big issues,” McAuliffe said: “I bet every single person in Virginia is glad the TV ads are now over.”
McAuliffe said he hoped “to make Virginia a model for pragmatic leadership … and job creation.” He added that he hoped to boost the commonwealth’s schools and attract “the best and brightest scientists and innovators regardless of race, gender, religion or who you love.”
And McAuliffe said he would “work hard to reach out to every single Republican in the General Assembly.”