Democrats Take Control of Senate As Allen Concedes to Webb in Va.
Friday, November 10, 2006
Democrat James Webb, who campaigned for Virginia's U.S. Senate seat by opposing the war in Iraq and calling for economic fairness, yesterday succeeded in his improbable bid to unseat Republican George Allen, giving the Democrats a 51-seat majority and control of both houses of Congress.
Webb's lead over Allen widened yesterday in the post-election vote canvass, and Allen graciously conceded to Webb to make the victory official. A short time later, Virginia's newest senator, who lives in Fairfax County, addressed a giddy crowd of hundreds of supporters in front of the Arlington County Courthouse.
His victory ended two days of suspense over which party would control the Senate. Going into Tuesday's election, the Democrats needed six seats for control, and it was Webb, a former Republican and Reagan administration official, who gave them the sixth seat.
"It is Virginia that turned the Senate blue," Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) told the cheering crowd.
Webb will take his place in a Congress in which Democrats will control both houses for the first time in 12 years.
"Mark Warner began a journey. Tim Kaine added on to it," a triumphant Webb said, referring to the state's back-to-back Democratic governors. "We are going to add on to it even more."
Webb said that Allen called him to concede and that the two former adversaries would have lunch next week. He called the campaign "unnecessarily brutal" and said he would talk to Allen about how they can help stop "the politics of divisiveness, character assassination, distraction."
A decorated former Marine with a son serving in Iraq, Webb wore combat boots throughout the campaign as a symbol of his early criticism of the conflict. Before speaking in Arlington, Webb took off the boots and held them in the air, delighting the crowd. He promised a new approach to the war that he said will lead to a diplomatic solution.
He also said, "We are going to work very hard on issues of economic fairness in a country that has become too divided by class."
Webb will join Sen. John W. Warner (R-Va.) in the Senate, where he will likely become a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a spokesman against the war with substantial credentials. Warner and Webb are part of a small fraternity, having both served as secretary of the Navy.
Webb, 60, was a Republican for most of his life and for a time served under the godfather of the modern GOP, President Ronald Reagan. But his election to the Senate delivered a final blow to the Republican Party.
"We will begin the process of putting this country back on the track where it needs to be," Webb said at yesterday's rally.