Timothy M. Kaine said he plans to take his record of compromise to Washington as Virginia’s junior senator.

“The key for us in public office is to read the message from the electorate,” Kaine told reporters at a briefing Wednesday, the day after he beat former governor George Allen in one of the country’s most watched Senate contests. “They want cooperative government. They are telling us over and over and over again they want us to work together.”

Kaine said that over the coming days he plans to reach out to other freshmen headed to Congress to find common ground and begin to address the gridlock that has stagnated and vilified Washington.

The bleary-eyed former governor also framed his victory as a triumph over the millions of dollars in outside spent on negative ads during the election.

“What we saw last night in Virginia . . . is what Virginians wanted to see is what are going to do,” Kaine said. “The outcome in Virginia spoke very clearly that grassroots can beat out big checks and outside ads.”

The contest for the seat held by retiring Sen. James Webb (D) had been neck-and-neck all along, confirming Virginia’s battleground status. For the past decade, Republicans and Democrats have traded control of the governor’s mansion, the General Assembly and U.S. Senate seats.