It's Official: Va. Democrats Gain in U.S. House

By Anita Kumar
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, November 25, 2008

RICHMOND, Nov. 24 -- The State Board of Elections certified results of the Nov. 4 election Monday, giving Democrats control of Virginia's congressional delegation for the first time in nearly a decade.

The count confirmed that Democrat Tom Perriello defeated Republican Rep. Virgil H. Goode Jr. in one of the closest House races in the nation.

Perriello proclaimed victory and has started his congressional orientation. Goode said Monday he will seek a taxpayer-funded recount.

If it holds, Perriello's narrow victory provides proof that this once conservative Southern state is starting to become blue in areas beyond left-leaning Northern Virginia.

Republicans consider the defeat an "anomaly." They say Goode and Republican Rep. Thelma D. Drake in Hampton Roads can attribute their losses to Democrat Barack Obama's popularity and message of change. They predict Republicans will reclaim at least two House seats in 2010.

"They're going to beat their chests and declare victory, but . . . they shouldn't rest too much on their laurels," said Del. Jeffrey M. Frederick (Prince William), state Republican Party chairman.

Eight years ago, Virginia Republicans controlled all five statewide offices and the General Assembly. But they began losing ground in 2001 and have since lost two successive gubernatorial elections, two Senate seats, and control of the state Senate.

Republicans started this year with an 8 to 3 edge in the congressional delegation but lost three seats when Perriello defeated Goode, Democrat Glenn Nye defeated Drake and Democrat Gerald E. Connolly won the district of retiring U.S. Rep. Tom Davis (R).

Republicans attribute recent losses to a national fatigue caused largely by President Bush's sagging approval ratings, an unpopular war in Iraq and the economic crisis.

Attorney General Robert F. McDonnell, the presumptive Republican nominee for governor next year, said the GOP had a "real tough sell" this year, but he also acknowledged the party needs to do a better job focusing on core issues.

"Anytime you lose elections, there's cause for an analysis," he said.

Levar Stoney, executive director of the state Democratic Party, said Perriello and Nye won in competitive districts because they offered concrete solutions to local problems. "They presented the better ideas," Stoney said.

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