- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 9, 2005

Republican state Sen. William T. Bolling won his bid for Virginia lieutenant governor by a slim margin in yesterday’s election, while the race for attorney general was too close to call late last night.

Mr. Bolling won the lieutenant governor’s race with 953,421 votes, besting former U.S. Rep. Leslie L. Byrne, a Democrat, who drew 922,770 votes, with 2,374 of the 2,395 precincts reporting.

In the attorney general’s race, Delegate Robert F. McDonnell, a Republican, had 940,815 votes and state Sen. R. Creigh Deeds, a Democrat, had 936,152 votes, with 2,375 of 2,395 precincts reporting.

Mr. Bolling’s win splits the state’s top elected offices along party lines, with Democrat Timothy M. Kaine winning the governor’s race. In his acceptance speech. Mr. Bolling said he would “play the part of the loyal opposition” if Mr. Kaine fails to uphold his campaign promises.

Polls showed Mr. McDonnell as a slight favorite in the final days of the attorney general’s race.

A Mason-Dixon poll Saturday showed that Mr. McDonnell was favored by 43 percent of the 625 registered voters who responded to the survey. Mr. Deeds had support from 40 percent.

A similar poll late last month showed Mr. McDonnell with an 8 percentage-point lead over Mr. Deeds.

Gov. Mark Warner called the attorney general’s race “too close to call” until “every vote is counted.”

Campaign officials for each candidate expressed confidence they would win.

“We’re very confident,” said Peter Jackson, a spokesman for Mr. Deeds. “The public and private polling all shows that we have the momentum, and we’re confident that we’re going to pull this thing out.”

“We’re feeling very confident,” McDonnell spokeswoman Janet Polarek said. “Turnout has been high in all the right places, and voters are clearly responding to Bill’s positive message.”

Mr. Bolling had been favored in the lieutenant governor’s race, according to polls.

In the Mason-Dixon poll on Saturday, Mr. Bolling had the support of 45 percent of respondents, while Mrs. Byrne had 39 percent. Mr. Bolling said yesterday afternoon that his campaign was feeling “pretty good about where we are right now.”

“The key thing today is our get-out-the-vote effort, and that seems to be working well all across the state,” said Mr. Bolling, who represents all of Caroline, Essex, Hanover, King and Queen, King William, and Middlesex counties, and parts of Spotsylvania County.

A spokesman for Mrs. Byrne had said the campaign was “cautiously optimistic.”

“This has been a crazy close race all along,” Byrne spokesman Joe Schafer said.

Mr. Bolling, 48, is a conservative who opposes abortion rights and supports limited government.

Known for his anti-tax stance, he is one of 12 senators who opposed last year’s $1.38 billion tax increase and has campaigned for increasing funding for higher education and transportation without raising taxes.

Mrs. Byrne, 59, campaigned on education, including vocational training in high schools and more resources for the Head Start program.

She also supports strict environmental regulations, abortion rights and a strong government role.

In 1992, Mrs. Byrne was the first woman elected to Virginia’s congressional delegation. After being defeated in 1994, she worked for several years in the Clinton White House as a consumer advocate and was a state senator from 2000 to 2003.

Had she been elected, she would have been the first female lieutenant governor in Virginia’s history.

Mrs. Byrne raised about $1.3 million for her campaign, while Mr. Bolling raised about $2.9 million.

In the attorney general contest, Mr. McDonnell, 51, touted himself as “a drug dealer’s worst nightmare” and promised tougher laws against sexual predators and drug dealers.

He supports the death penalty, opposes same-sex “marriage” and was a leader in the pro-life movement in the General Assembly.

A retired Army medical-supply officer, Mr. McDonnell heads the House Courts of Justice Committee.

Mr. Deeds, 47, has focused on education, environmental conservation and economic development.

He was endorsed by the National Rifle Association after proposing a constitutional amendment guaranteeing Virginians the right to hunt and fish.

A former prosecutor, Mr. Deeds promised to be tough on crime and crack down on sex offenders who have been released by requiring them to wear tracking devices. He said he would push for federal authorities to deport gang members who are illegal aliens.

Mr. Deeds raised about $2.5 million for his campaign, and Mr. McDonnell about $4.7 million.

Christina Bellantoni in Richmond contributed to this article, which is based in part on wire service reports.

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