Warner, Moran, Connolly Rout GOP Rivals
President-elect Barack Obama’s epochal victory Tuesday included carrying Virginia for a Democratic presidential candidate for the first time since 1964.
Poignantly, 1964 was almost exactly when the Voting Rights Act was passed, as Rep. Jim Moran noted in remarks to the News-Press yesterday. “The historic import of a man getting elected on the content of his character and the clarity of his intellect, without regard for the color of his skin, says so much about the American people, and is the fulfillment of the dream that the Rev. Martin Luther King had 40 years ago. The fact that the first Democrat to get elected for president from Virginia since 1964, the time of the Voting Rights Act, can’t be overstated,” Moran said.
As it has been for Democrats in four statewide races for the U.S. Senate and governor this decade, Obama’s win in Virginia was buoyed by his margin of victory in Northern Virginia, in particular Arlington, Alexandria, Falls Church and eastern Fairfax County, inclusive of the 8th and 11th Congressional districts.
Out of 3,470,390 total votes cast in Virginia, Obama’s 154,238 statewide advantage, for 51.7 percent of the total, was matched almost exactly by his 154,749 margin in the 8th and 11th districts.
The same districts scored substantial margins for incumbent Rep. Jim Moran (with 67.59 percent of the vote) and Fairfax County Board chair Gerry Connolly (with 52.98 percent), who picked up a seat for the Democrats in Congress by winning handily the 11th District post vacated by the retiring Republican Tom Davis.
As for U.S. Senator-elect Mark Warner, he carried every region of Virginia in an overwhelming victory, with 64.35 percent of the vote, against Republican former Gov. Jim Gilmore. Warner became the first Democrat of the decade to break the GOP grip on the statewide vote when he won the race for governor in 2001.
That one, and subsequent Democratic statewide wins for Gov. Tim Kaine in 2005 and for Sen. Jim Webb in 2006 were narrow wins secured by the Northern Virginia vote, as Obama’s was Tuesday. But for Warner this time, although his margins were overwhelming in Northern Virginia, he carried the entire state with ease.
Exhausted but jubilant Obama campaign workers and volunteers, including the hundreds who worked for the last two months out of the office downtown in the City of Falls Church, gathered at Falls Church’s Dogwood Tavern following the closing of the polls Tuesday, some soaked from working outside the City’s five polling places in the light drizzle that persisted through much of the day.
The City of Falls Church again led the state in voter turnout, with 81.94 percent, or 6,750, of active registered voters turning out. The City’s margin for Obama was 69.55 percent to 29.18 percent for McCain. This tally included a reported 800 newly-registered voters who signed up in the months before the election, and 2,026 absentee votes were cast, 79.94 percent of which were for Obama.
Other Obama volunteers and supporters went to the large combined Democratic campaign party at the McLean Hilton, where Warner, Moran and Connolly greeted a large crowd of partisans, who roared at 11 p.m., when on large TV screens, the major networks declared Obama the winner nationwide.
Virginia’s role in amassing the winning margin was made poignant by the announcement it carried for Obama only moments before the polls closed in three West Coast states and the overall victory for Obama was declared.
Connolly, who becomes the first Democrat to represent the 11th District since Leslie Byrne in 1994, declared in his remarks, “Tonight we celebrate a historic election that will be recorded in the annals of this generation and for generations to come.”
“Tonight he turned a heavy page on 400 years of racial history and reaffirmed the American imperative that all men and women are created equal,” he added. In comments to the News-Press yesterday, he said the election also turned the page “toward government by common sense solutions and not ideology.”
Warner, in a press conference at his campaign headquarters in Alexandria, also said the election “turned a page.” President-elect Obama “set absolutely the right tone” in his victory remarks last Tuesday, Warner said. “I hope in some small way to be part of the effort to get the country on the right track,” noting his passion for developing a “national competitiveness strategy.”
“We need to score a win among all the problems we face,” he said. “I think we can achieve it with energy initiatives.”
With Tuesday’s victories sealed, eyes in Virginia turned yesterday to a hair-thin race that could give Democrats still another seat in the U.S. Congress. In the 5th Congressional District in south-central Virginia, Democratic challenger Tom Perriello carried a 20-vote margin against Republican incumbent Virgil Goode, Jr., with 100 percent of the votes reportedly counted as of 3:30 p.m. yesterday.
For the GOP, Rep. Frank Wolf won re-election in the 10th District by a surprisingly comfortable margin of 60.14 percent to 37.49 percent for Democratic challenger Judy Feder.
In a friendly competition, Falls Church beat the City of Charlottesville in the wager between the two jurisdictions’ mayors. Falls Church’s 81.94 percent turnout trumped Charlottesville’s 68.7 percent, although Charlottesville’s margin for Obama (78.46 percent) was higher than Falls Church’s.
CNBC television crews spent part of the day broadcasting periodically from the Falls Church Community Center polling location.
“The pendulum of history has swung dramatically in this election,” Moran told the News-Press in his interview yesterday. “Democrats have received the largest government majority ever, and with that comes great responsibility. We have to govern fairly, openly, and most especially competently.”
The election “is a mandate for change, a rejection of the rigid ideology and conservatism of the Bush-Cheney administration and the Republicans. ‘Trickle down’ economics is making us all poor. Eighty percent of the wealth is controlled by 10 percent of the people,” he said. “It’s un-American for those who feel entitled to own an expanding share of wealth, without having to pay their fair share for the costs of our military, roads, rails or education of our workforce.”
He said that jobs will be the first priority for the new government that will be seated in Washington, D.C. in January.