Del. Gladys B. Keating has done this 11 times, padding downstairs to her basement office the morning after an election to field calls of congratulation from longtime supporters.
But yesterday, it was different. This time, callers offered their condolences: Keating, one of Northern Virginia's longest serving legislators and, with 22 years in Richmond, the senior woman in the 140-member General Assembly, had been ousted from office by a rookie less than half her age.
There are few better symbols of the Republican takeover of Virginia state government than the bitter loss by Keating, a traditional old-line Democrat who found herself out of step with voters in her fast-changing eastern Fairfax district.
Republican Thomas M. Bolvin, a 35-year-old insurance agent, successfully hammered on themes of transportation gridlock and school crowding in his third attempt to oust Keating, this time winning with 52 percent of the vote. Keating, 76, refused yesterday to extend her best wishes.
"He never called me when I won," she said. "You can tell I don't care for him very much."
Keating said Bolvin distorted her record in a blizzard of glossy mailings and television ads paid for by the $50,000-plus he got from accounts controlled by Gov. James S. Gilmore III (R). Bolvin said that the money helped level the playing field financially and that Keating's low profile as a legislator underscored her ineffectiveness.
Behind the post-game rhetoric is the reality of major demographic changes in the 43rd District, which includes the fast-growing Springfield, Franconia and Newington areas.
Keating, a low-key legislator who focused on family law and other social issues, seemed unable to connect with the thousands of new residents who have flooded the formerly blue-collar eastern end of Fairfax, where she and her husband have lived for 38 years. Although Bolvin won 12 of 15 precincts, Keating said Bolvin's strongest support came from burgeoning areas such as his own neighborhood of Kingstowne.
"A lot of the new people are these young professionals, and he sort of catered to them," she said. "The assumption--or at least the assumption they received from my opponent--was that I didn't understand their concerns."
Keating's was one of two delegate spots picked up by Republicans Tuesday, giving them 52 seats in the 100-member chamber.
Mark J. Rozell, a Catholic University professor who follows Virginia politics, said Republican officials have proved adept at speaking to the state's growing suburban electorate. Virginia Democrats, on the other hand, steeped in the state's traditional rural power structure, are still struggling to adapt, he said.
"Keating's district became more and more Republican as it became more populated, and that is a typical pattern," Rozell said. "As the state becomes more suburban and more affluent, the Democrats have to find some way to reach out to those voters."
In some cases this year, they did, snatching a GOP supervisor's seat in Fairfax and eking out an apparent upset of Republican Sen. Jane H. Woods (Fairfax). But Rozell and other analysts noted that in most such races, the victorious Democrats focused on suburban themes such as transportation and education, much like many Republicans before them.
In Keating's district--home to the massive reconstruction of the Springfield "mixing bowl" interchange--Bolvin focused his third campaign against Keating on traffic and other bread-and-butter suburban issues, talking less than he had previously about conservative social issues.
"I'm concerned about the out-of-control growth, endless gridlock clogging our highways and overcrowded schools that rely on trailers," Bolvin said on his Web site. "We need a delegate who will roll up his sleeves and take action on these important issues."
Keating pointed to her chairmanship of a special legislative commission on growth issues. But yesterday she reflected that her proudest accomplishments in the legislature centered on other topics such as her work on family law and women's issues.
Both candidates had plenty of money. Keating raised $130,000 through September, and Bolvin had even more: $150,000, about half of it from Gilmore and other state and national GOP leaders.
"She was tagged with a lot of the growth problems, education problems and also with the traffic situation here in our local neighborhood," Bolvin said. "She didn't focus on those three core issues, and I think that was one of her key problems. . . . People wanted action, and she wasn't producing it."
In the wake of her defeat, Keating was wistful about her first campaign for the General Assembly in 1977, which cost $5,000; that year, 76 of those elected to the House were Democrats and 21 were Republicans.
"In those days, you didn't do polling, you didn't have paid campaign managers and there wasn't this intense pressure that goes along with elections now," she said. "It's not a comfortable place for Democrats in Richmond anymore. It was a lot better when I started."
Key Players in Northern Virginia's Delegation
Del. Vincent F. Callahan Jr. (R-Fairfax) is co-chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, giving him enormous and growing influence over all state spending.
Del. John H. "Jack" Rust Jr. (R-Fairfax) is one of three top candidates to become the first Republican speaker of the House in a century. Even if he loses that, he's a rising star in the House and almost certain to get a leadership job.
Del. James H. Dillard II (R-Fairfax) survived a spirited Democratic challenge. He is co-chairman of the House Education Committee and part of a group of centrist Republicans likely to wield key votes on a variety of issues.
Del. Harry J. Parrish (R-Manassas) is a respected House veteran and co-chairman of the House Finance Committee, one of three money committees in the General Assembly.
Del. John A. "Jack" Rollison III (R-Prince William) grows in power now that the House Transportation Committee he co-chairs will tip to Republican control. He too knows how to reach across party and regional lines and work with Gov. Gilmore.
Sen. Richard L. Saslaw (D-Fairfax) is the region's highest-ranking Democrat and his party's leader in the state Senate. He's a partisan battler in an era when Democrats have a dwindling core of generals.
Del. Linda T. "Toddy" Puller (D-Fairfax) won a tough race to move up to the state Senate, marking her as one of only a few new Democratic stars. She has emerged as a successful builder of coalitions across regional and party lines.