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Who Won -- or Lost -- Besides the Candidates

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By Michael D. Shear
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, November 16, 2006

The nice thing about elections is that eventually there's a winner and a loser, no matter how small the margin between them.

In Virginia's just-ended Senate race, Democrat James Webb had eked out a victory over incumbent George Allen (R) by 9,326 votes as of early Tuesday afternoon. Regardless, Webb ends up the winner.

But there are other winners and losers in Virginia from the Nov. 7 general election.

What follows is a list of who might emerge in better shape, politically, and who might end up regretting the outcome.

WINNERS

Thomas M. Davis III : The Republican congressman from Fairfax has been preaching moderation in the GOP and insisting that his party choose statewide candidates from Northern Virginia. After two consecutive defeats for Republicans from outside the region, his colleagues just might listen. If so, Davis could have an easier time securing the nomination for John W. Warner's Senate seat -- if Warner retires -- in 2008, or Davis could seek the governorship in 2009.

The Kaine and Warner legacies: There's no question that Webb's victory builds on the wins of Democratic Gov. Timothy M. Kaine and his predecessor, Mark R. Warner. Both men campaigned vigorously for Webb and raised money as if they had government printing presses at their disposal.

A. Donald McEachin: The black Democratic delegate from Richmond supported Webb in the primary, when none of his African American political colleagues did.

Northern Virginia: If there was still a question about the dominance of the Washington suburbs (and, to a lesser degree, the Tidewater region), this election probably answers it. The old rules for statewide candidates said it wasn't enough to carry Northern Virginia to win an election. Now, after the Webb and Kaine victories, it just might be enough.

Gerald E. Connolly: The ambitious Democratic chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors has to be thrilled that Fairfax has turned into a stronghold for his party. Like Davis, he could use that base to run for a statewide office. Or, if Davis leaves the House for a statewide bid, Connolly would be a logical candidate to succeed him.

Robert F. McDonnell and Bill Bolling: The state's Republican attorney general and lieutenant governor can now vie for the top spot in the state party without being overshadowed by Allen.

LOSERS

William J. Howell: The Republican speaker of the House of Delegates preaches the brand of conservative politics espoused by Allen and former attorney general Jerry W. Kilgore, who lost the race for governor last year. With all Republican delegates up for reelection in 2007, the Allen loss sends a fresh warning about the state's acceptance of those policies, especially in Northern Virginia.

Kate Obenshain Griffin: Already a loser, she has resigned as chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia after presiding over two straight losses (those of Kilgore and Allen) and several state legislative defeats. She is taking haven as Allen's chief of staff until the end of the year.

Robert F. McDonnell and Bill Bolling: Despite now being the top dogs, their prospects for winning the governorship in 2009 seem much trickier now. And who knows, Allen could decide to seek that office in a comeback.

Benjamin J. Lambert III: Like McEachin, the black Democratic state senator from Richmond took sides. But the wrong one. He stunned colleagues by endorsing Allen and went further by attending Allen's fundraiser with President Bush, recording radio ads on Allen's behalf and choosing to attend the Allen "victory" party instead of Webb's.

Dick Wadhams and Scott Howell: Allen's campaign manager and television ad man took big hits this year. Wadhams has returned to his home in Colorado after starting the summer thinking he was managing the campaign of a future presidential candidate. Howell, meanwhile, has now been part of two losing campaigns in Virginia (he did the much-maligned ads for Kilgore, too). In a business where results matter, neither delivered.

Voters: Despite promises from both Allen and Webb, neither delivered a campaign that informed voters about the issues that matter.

Instead, what transpired was a nasty personal spat between two men who clearly didn't like each other very much.

Polling suggested that both candidates had extremely high negative assessments, meaning that Webb's victory might have been more a vote against Allen.


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