Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Robert F. McDonnell’s decisive victory over R. Creigh Deeds headlined a victorious night for Republicans, who also held the offices of attorney general and lieutenant governor and expected to make gains in the House of Delegates.

State Sen. Kenneth T. Cuccinelli defeated Stephen C. Shannon to take the attorney general post occupied until earlier this year by Mr. McDonnell. With 99 percent of the vote counted, Mr. Cuccinelli led Mr. Shannon 57.6 percent to 42.3 percent.

Mr. Cuccinelli addressed a raucous crowd at the Republican ticket’s victory party in Richmond, unfurling and attempting to drape over the podium a Revolutionary War-era yellow flag with the words “Don’t tread on me” that has become the symbol of the “tea party” movement.

“For them, it was a symbol of Colonial resistance to the oppression of a far-off government, but for us, it’s a symbol of simply returning to the Founders’ vision of a limited government that respects constitutional boundaries,” Mr. Cuccinelli said.

Quoting Ronald Reagan, Mr. Cuccinelli told the crowd that “government’s first duty is to protect the people, not run their lives.” He promised as attorney general he would keep an eye on Washington.

Mr. Cuccinelli was followed at the podium by Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, who told the crowd that Republicans were victorious because they ran a positive campaign on issues that Virginians care about, such as transportation, jobs and education.

“The people of Virginia responded tonight because they know, as we know, that the challenges facing our state today are too big for small campaigns. They want more than that. They expect more than that, and we will give them more than that for the next four years,” he said.

With 99 percent of the vote counted, Mr. Bolling led Democrat Jody M. Wagner 56.4 percent to 43.5 percent.

Republicans, who held 53 seats in the House going into Election Day, also hoped to expand their majority. Democrats held 43 seats. Two seats were held by independents, and two were vacant.

Democrats won the seat formerly held by former Virginia Republican Party Chairman Jeffrey M. Frederick, who opted not to run for re-election in Prince William County. Democrat Luke E. Torian, a Baptist minister, defeated Republican Rafael Lopez, a former Dumfries Town Council member.

Democrat Robin Abbott also took the Hampton Roads seat of Republican Delegate Phillip A. Hamilton, the 10-term incumbent who represents the city of Newport News. A House ethics panel and a federal grand jury are examining possible impropriety in a teaching job that Mr. Hamilton arranged for himself at Old Dominion University. According to news reports, Mr. Hamilton sent hundreds of thousands of dollars in state funds to the school in exchange for the position.

But Republican challenger James W. Morefield defeated Democratic Delegate Dan C. Bowling in a campaign that saw Mr. Morefield successfully turn the discussion in their Southwest Virginia coal-producing region into the negative effects of proposed federal cap-and-trade climate change legislation, which would limit companies’ carbon emissions.

Christopher Stolle, a former Navy doctor and the brother of Republican state Sen. Kenneth W. Stolle, defeated Virginia Beach’s Democratic Delegate Joseph Bouchard in a rematch of their 2007 contest.

Republican challenger Thomas Greason defeated Democratic Delegate David E. Poisson in Loudoun County, and Republican James M. LeMunyon beat Democratic Delegate Chuck Caputo in Fairfax.

Republicans expected a net gain of at least five seats once all the votes were counted.

“Once again, voters said ‘yes’ to Republicans leading the Virginia House of Delegates as the majority,” said House Speaker William J. Howell. “Citizens can be assured we will continue working to govern thoughtfully and constructively on their behalf.”

Turnout appeared to be low, at about 39 percent with 99 percent of precincts reporting, according to the Virginia State Board of Elections.

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