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.
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Kaine Hails 'Balance' in New Political Landscape
U.S. Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said Virginia is "a growing, dynamic state" that will continue to be competitive in elections. But Cantor added that he is confident that the state GOP will quickly rebound from Tuesday's losses. Cantor said several GOP candidates, including Fairfax Dels. Timothy D. Hugo and Thomas Davis Rust, were successful Tuesday because they avoided being "put in a conservative versus liberal box."
"Republicans won when they had positive, practical solutions to the everyday problems that people face," Cantor said. "I think that is the best signal for how the party goes forward in '08 and '09."
The changed political landscape could also enhance the visibility of the House, which is still controlled by the GOP (54-44, with two independents) and could become the incubator for the party's ideas and strategies for staging a comeback.
Kaine reached out to House and Senate GOP leaders Wednesday in phone calls to heal the divisions caused by a fall campaign marked by negative, nasty races. He said the election "means the legislature is going to line up a lot closer to where the Virginia electorate is."
"I am going to have to make my case on whatever I want to do, whether a legislator is a Democrat or Republican, but we have got the legislature closer to a balance point," he said.
Several House Republicans said they are unlikely to cooperate with Kaine in his final two years in office, raising the prospect of an impasse.
"It just doesn't do any good to be bipartisan with Tim Kaine. He'll cut your hands off the next day," said Del. Terry G. Kilgore (R-Scott), chairman of the House Republican Caucus, referring to Kaine's aggressive effort to target GOP legislators in this year's elections.
Instead of viewing Tuesday's outcome as a setback for conservatives, House leaders say they will now focus on their priorities instead of the governor's. House Republicans want to curb illegal immigration, reduce property taxes and spend more money on school construction.
"The Senate Democrats will push a more liberal agenda . . . [but] they have to get permission to pass anything," said House Majority Leader H. Morgan Griffith (R-Salem).
Senate Democrats, who have been out of power since 1997, said Wednesday that they probably will promote their agenda, including revisiting whether more money is needed to pay for transportation improvements and helping Kaine pass an initiative to provide pre-kindergarten education.
Senate Minority Leader Richard L. Saslaw (D-Fairfax), who is likely to become majority leader, predicted that Democrats will focus on results instead of "grandstanding."
Acknowledging that Saslaw and other Senate Democrats did not like the GOP transportation plan Kaine signed into law this spring, Kaine said he will work with them to fix it.