- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 9, 2005

RICHMOND — Republican Robert F. McDonnell declared victory yesterday in the closely contested attorney general’s race while his opponent began making plans for a recount.

Mr. McDonnell, a state delegate from Virginia Beach, said at a press conference that he was confident his razor-thin margin over Democrat R. Creigh Deeds, a state senator from Bath County, would hold up after the votes are retabulated.

“I’m confident to announce today that I’m going to be the next attorney general of the commonwealth of Virginia,” Mr. McDonnell told a room packed with cheering supporters at the General Assembly Building.

Mr. McDonnell led Mr. Deeds by fewer than 2,000 votes out of more than 1.9 million votes cast, fewer than one vote per precinct.

Mr. Deeds conceded nothing.

“Right now I’m heading back to Bath County,” he said yesterday morning. “I have clients I need to see, cows that have to be fed and kids I need to hold.”

The Virginia State Board of Elections will certify results of Tuesday’s elections on Nov. 28. After that, the loser has 10 days to petition for a recount. That means the result probably will not be official until December.

Mr. Deeds announced that he had formed a nine-member legal team to represent him in the likely recount. The team will be led by Joseph C. Kearfott, who represented Gov.-elect L. Douglas Wilder in the only statewide recount in modern Virginia history in 1989.

Mr. McDonnell’s campaign manager, Janet Polarek, said former state Solicitor General William H. Hurd likely would head the Republican’s recount legal team. Mr. Hurd represented Republican Marshall Coleman in his failed recount against Mr. Wilder, a Democrat.

Mr. Hurd said the 1989 recount shaved Mr. Wilder’s margin of victory by only 113 votes, which gave him confidence that Mr. McDonnell’s margin is wide enough to survive a recount.

Mr. McDonnell also announced an eight-member transition team headed by Richard Cullen, a former state attorney general and federal prosecutor. Mr. Cullen also led the 2001 transition team for former Attorney General Jerry W. Kilgore, who lost the governor’s race to Democrat Timothy M. Kaine on Tuesday.

Mr. Deeds said he also was forming a transition team so he will be prepared if the election results turn his way.

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