The outcome of the two races on the ballot in the City of Falls Church — incumbent Democrats Tim Kaine and Don Beyer running to retain their U.S. Senate and House seats, respectively — was never in doubt in Tuesday’s election, but that did not deter the enthusiasm at the polls here, where a whopping 74.1 percent of registered voters turnout despite a steady, heavy rain.
The 74.1 percent number, according to City Registrar David Bjerke, is almost equal to the 77 percent that turned out for the 2016 presidential election and far higher for a midterm election, with Kaine carrying 82 percent of the votes cast, and Beyer, representing the 8th District of Falls Church that includes the City of Falls Church, with 80 percent.
Kaine won statewide by a 56.9 to 41.3 percent margin over Corey Stewart, and Beyer won in the 8th District by a 76-24 percent margin over Thomas Oh. Both state Constitutional amendments on the ballot, one to extend benefits for families of slain service members and one to give extended tax breaks for certain homeowners in flood-prone areas, won easily in Falls Church and statewide.
The expected lopsided votes in Falls Church led many activists to spend time in other more hotly contested rates in the region, and for Democrats, that paid off with a victory for State Sen. Jennifer Wexton, unseating incumbent Republican Barbara Comstock, 56 percent to 44 percent, in the 10th District adjacent the 8th that runs from McLean to the West Virginia border in the far northern part of the state.
While the 10th District (which once covered Falls Church before redistricting moved it out in 1990) went to a Democrat for the first time since 1988, it was a surprisingly strong victory for Wexton over Comstock, and TV networks called the result only a half hour after polls closed, making it the earliest such call in the entire national election.
Also, to the near south, first time candidate and former CIA specialist Democrat Abigail Spanberger knocked off Tea Party Republican incumbent Dave Brat in a gerrymandered 7th District running from Arlington to Richmond, by a tight one-percent margin. Further south, Democrat first-timer Elaine Luria edged Republican Scott Taylor by two percent.
In addition to Beyer, three other incumbent Democratic U.S. Reps all won as well, Bobby Scott unopposed in the 3rd District, Donald McEachin by a 62-36 margin in the 4th District and Gerry Connolly by a 71-27 margin in the 11th.
That limited Republican U.S. House wins to Rob Wittman over Vangie Williams in the 1st District by 56-44, Denver Riggleman over Leslie Cockburn in the 5th District by 54-48, Ben Cline over Jennifer Lewis in the 6th District by 60-40, and Morgan Griffith over Anthony Fiaccavento in the 9th District by 65-35.
The result has shifted the makeup of Virginia’s U.S. House delegation from 7-4 Republican to 7-4 Democratic, and sets up the 2019 state senate and house of delegate elections, offering Democrats the opportunity to win majorities in both legislative bodies in Richmond that now have narrowly thin Republican margins.
While there were no more local races in the ballot in Falls Church, in neighboring Arlington the Democratic-endorsed Matt de Ferranti won over incumbent independent John Vihstadt for county board.
At Kaine’s victory celebration at Falls Church’s Fairview Marriott Hotel, a long list of party dignitaries, including Kaine and Beyer, spoke, along with Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam. A smaller gathering of City of Falls Church Democratic loyalists gathered at the Mad Fox Brewing Company that included a solid contingent of Young Democrats from George Mason High.
In his remarks Tuesday night, Kaine stressed that the election was “about who we as a people are, and who we aren’t.” He’d campaigned heavily for Democratic candidates throughout the state, and said he will do it again for state delegate and state senate candidates next year.
Beyer said, “Tonight, the American people voted to elect a House that will hold the president accountable, something that Republicans have refused to do for the past two years.”
Picking up a total of 29 seats overall, the Democrats have secured a 223 to 199 margin in the House, while the Republicans expanded their margin in the Senate to a 51-46 margin.
Electing the most diverse group of candidates in its history, the Democratic Party picked up seven governor seats, and six state legislatures, breaking four Republican state legislature supermajorities. Democrats flipped over 290 individual state legislative races, bringing the total in the election cycle to 330.
Four states voted to expand voting rights, including a constitutional amendment in Florida restoring voting rights to more than a million people with felony records, three state supreme courts flipped, three red states voted to expand Medicaid, two states voted to raise their minimum wages.
Two women, Ayanna Pressley and Jahana Hayes, became the first African American women elected to the U.S. Congress from Massachusetts and Connecticut; Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib are two Muslim women who became the first elected to the House; Veronica Escobar and Sylvia Garcia are two women who became the first Latinas elected to represent Texas in the House; Sharice Davids and Deb Haaland are two women who became the first Native American women to be elected to the House; Colorado’s Jaris Polis became the first openly gay governor elected in the U.S. and also its first Jewish governor; Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Abby Finkenauer became the youngest women ever elected to Congress; Lauren Underwood became the first African-American elected to Illinois’ 14th District; Tish James became New York’s first African-American women attorney general; and, military veterans Mikie Sherrill and Elaine Luria were two among six military veterans to flip House seats from red to blue.
In key races that Democrats made competitive but lost, their gains nonetheless advanced the political careers of Beto O’Rourke in Texas, Stacey Abrams in Georgia and Andrew Gillum in Florida.
Newly elected and re-elected LGBT Democrats included U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, and U.S. Reps. Katie Hill, Mark Takano, Sharice Davids, Angie Craig, Chris Pappas, Sean Patrick Maloney, David Cicilline and Mark Pocan. Seven LGBT Democrats won statewide races, and 12 scored state legislative wins.