Kaine wins re-elec­tion

Vir­ginia Democrats score key wins in con­gres­sional races

The Progress-Index - - FRONT PAGE - By Alan Su­d­er­man and Matthew Barakat

RICH­MOND — Vir­ginia vot­ers re­proached Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump for the sec­ond year in row as Democrats flipped at least two con­gres­sional races and scored a con­vinc­ing vic­tory in a U.S. Sen­ate race.

Jen­nifer Wex­ton in North­ern Vir­ginia and Elaine Luria in Hamp­ton

Roads de­feated in­cum­bent Repub­li­cans to give Democrats six of the state’s 11 U.S. House seats. A closely watched Rich­mon­darea con­test between Repub­li­can Dave Brat and Demo­crat Abi­gail Span­berger re­mained too close to call.

Demo­crat Sen. Tim Kaine also re­sound­ingly de­feated Repub­li­can Corey Stew­art, a diehard sup­porter of the pres­i­dent.

Trump was a fre­quent fo­cus of the bareknuck­led races.

“For a while now, we’ve had lead­ers in Wash­ing­ton who don’t share the val­ues of coastal Vir­ginia,” Luria said af­ter claim­ing vic­tory over Repub­li­can Scott Tay­lor.

Wex­ton, speak­ing to hun­dreds of cheer­ing sup­port­ers, echoed sim­i­lar themes.

“I’ve been say­ing that change is com­ing. ... That change came tonight,” she said.

The strong show­ing by Democrats high­lights Vir­ginia’s con­tin­ued dis­like of the pres­i­dent, par­tic­u­larly among sub­ur­ban vot­ers. Vir­ginia served as an early in­di­ca­tor for anti-Trump en­ergy dur­ing its 2017 race for gov­er­nor. Democrats trounced Repub­li­cans in all three statewide races and won more seats in the state House than vir­tu­ally any­one ex­pected.

One bright spot for Repub­li­cans was Den­ver Rig­gle­man, who won an open seat in cen­tral Vir­ginia against Demo­crat Leslie Cock­burn in a district that Trump won by 11 per­cent­age points.

It was one of four GOP-held seats Democrats fo­cused flip­ping this year.

Rig­gle­man, in a phone in­ter­view, ac­knowl­edged he was sur­prised by com­fort­able his mar­gin of vic­tory. He said he thinks he was able to con­nect with vot­ers in the district by speak­ing plainly and di­rectly with them.

“I’m a con­ser­va­tive ... but I don’t think we have to be so po­lar­ized to get things done,” he said.

Trump was also on the mind of many vot­ers.

Richard Mil­ner, 66, who in­spects pri­vate boats for in­sur­ance com­pa­nies along Vir­ginia’s coast, voted for U.S. Rep Scott Tay­lor and Stew­art, and cred­its Trump and Repub­li­cans in Con­gress for the boom­ing econ­omy. He said busi­ness for him has been “rock­ing and rolling.”

“If we had a Demo­crat in there, they would be to­tally against what­ever (Trump) wanted to do, which is more of a road­block for the gov­ern­ment get­ting things done,” said Mil­ner, who lives in Nor­folk.

Ross Noe, 55, a fi­nan­cial un­der­writer from Goochland, said he voted for Democrats as a way of send­ing a mes­sage of dis­con­tent with how Trump is gov­ern­ing.

“I am just very afraid of some of the de­ci­sions be­ing made in Wash­ing­ton,” said Noe.

Kaine and Stew­art had heated clashes dur­ing their three can­di­date de­bates, but the rest of the race was largely one-sided. Kaine had more than $20 mil­lion to spend on the race and blan­keted the state with TV ads. Stew­art had only a frac­tion to spend and re­lied mostly on so­cial me­dia to try and am­plify his voice.

Best known for his out­spo­ken sup­port of Con­fed­er­ate im­agery, Stew­art is a one-time Trump state cam­paign chair­man. But he re­ceived al­most no help from the White House — Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence trav­eled to Vir­ginia mul­ti­ple times but never cam­paigned with Stew­art.

While Democrats have won ev­ery statewide elec­tion since 2009, Repub­li­cans were able to keep races close prior to the 2016 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion. Repub­li­can Ed Gille­spie lost a Sen­ate elec­tion in 2014 by less than 20,000 votes by run­ning as a Repub­li­can mod­er­ate. Last year, Gille­spie em­braced much of Trump’s rhetoric on so­cial is­sues and lost a race for gov­er­nor by more than 230,000.

Even be­fore Trump, the state has been shift­ing left­ward. The change is largely a fac­tor of de­mo­graph­ics, as Vir­ginia’s more lib­eral and di­verse cities and sub­urbs make up an in­creas­ingly large share of the state’s pop­u­la­tion. Vote-rich North­ern Vir­ginia has been dubbed the “blue wall” that’s helped en­sure Demo­cratic vic­to­ries statewide.


Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., car­ries his bal­lot to the vote count­ing ma­chine as he votes in Rich­mond, Va., Tues­day, Nov. 6, 2018. Kaine won his re-elec­tion bid, run­ning against Repub­li­can Corey Stew­art.

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