Some print and online versions of this story said that Democrats gained two Senate seats in Hampton Roads by defeating Republican Sen. Jeannemarie Devolites Davis and candidate J.K. "Jay" O'Brien. Davis and O'Brien competed for seats in Fairfax.
Kaine Hails 'Balance' in New Political Landscape
Thursday, November 8, 2007
RICHMOND, Nov. 7 -- A day after the Democrats took control of the Virginia Senate and gained seats in the House, Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) said he now has "some friends" in the General Assembly and has achieved his goal of bringing "more balance" to a political landscape that was dominated by Republicans just six years ago.
The governor said he hoped the change will mean that the parts of his agenda that stalled during his first two years in office might advance in his last two. He listed additional investments in education, mental health and environmental protection as programs that might move forward.
Tuesday's Democratic gains also raised speculation about whether Virginia could vote for a Democrat in the presidential race next year for the first time since 1964. The state has chosen two successive Democratic governors and elected a Democratic U.S. senator last year. The party's probable U.S. Senate candidate next year is former governor Mark R. Warner, one of Virginia's most popular political figures.
All of Tuesday's Democratic gains occurred in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads, the state's most populous areas and its economic linchpins. Political analysts said those regions might also be aligning to become a force in statewide politics that favors Democrats.
Bill Beaman, editor in chief of Campaigns & Elections Magazine, said the GOP cannot win statewide elections if Hampton Roads and Northern Virginia voters are unified, even if rural parts of the state remain solidly Republican.
"You can almost see Virginia being a microcosm of the national red-blue divide," Beaman said. "What this election showed is on a number of issues, Virginia tends to be more red than blue. But what has got to worry Republicans is some of those light-red voters now feel more comfortable voting Democratic. . . . The fact they are losing these middle-of-the-road voters has got to worry the GOP."
Even Sen. John W. Warner, long the GOP standard-bearer in Virginia, worried about his party.
"The Republican Party of Virginia has drifted from the time-honored principle of the big tent," he said in a statement last night. "In my judgment, yesterday's election results demonstrate that Virginia voters value greatly political leaders who are willing to reach reasonable solutions and tackle big issues ranging from the budget to immigration to the environment and transportation."
In Norfolk, Democrat Ralph S. Northam unseated Republican Sen. D. Nick Rerras, who was criticized for once tying mental illness to demonic possession. In another Senate race in Newport News, Democrat John C. Miller defeated Republican Patricia B. "Tricia" Stall, who once advocated for an end to government involvement in education.
In Fairfax County, a Democratic tide also unseated Republican Sens. Jeannemarie Devolites Davis and J.K. "Jay" O'Brien Jr., who conceded Wednesday. "I got sent home by the people," O'Brien said.
Democrats took at least 21 of 40 seats in the Senate but fell seven seats short of taking back the House of Delegates. In the state's closest race, Sen. Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II (R-Fairfax) led Democrat Janet S. Oleszek by 92 votes as county officials canvassed the ballots Wednesday. She said she will decide later this month whether to ask for a recount.
"The lesson learned from [Tuesday's] election is to govern from the middle," said Del. Brian J. Moran (D-Alexandria), who noted that the Democrats' four-seat House gain is their largest in that chamber since 1975, after the Watergate scandal.