RICHMOND — Virginia’s blue streak ended Tuesday night.
After electing two consecutive Democratic governors, two Democratic U.S. Senators and clinching President Barack Obama’s win last year, all three statewide candidates fell to their Republican counterparts on Election Day 2009.
Gubernatorial candidate Creigh Deeds, who was trailing in many polls by double digits leading up to the election, lost to Republican Bob McDonnell by a wide margin. After conceding the position of governor to McDonnell, Deeds vowed to continue to work for citizens of Virginia.
“Just because we didn’t get the result we want tonight doesn’t mean we’re going to go home and whine. We’re going to keep working,” Deeds said. “This chapter is closed, but the next chapter is about to be written.”
The previous chapter featured a Democratic resurgence in Virginia with Sen. Mark Warner and current Gov. Tim Kaine serving in the Governor’s Mansion over the past eight years. Both appeared by Deeds’ side on Tuesday.
“Eight years ago, we started a streak in this state,” Warner said. “We turned Virginia around.”
Under Warner and Kaine, Virginia has been named the best state for business and the best managed state.
Kaine, who leaves office in January, will continue his role as Democratic National Chairman upon departing the office of governor. He said Virginia would remember the progress made in this era of Democratic control.
“Virginians appreciate our democratic and pragmatic approach to solving problems,” Kaine said.
Virginia’s blue result last year punched Obama’s ticket to the White House. Enthusiasm even seemed high as Deeds won the Democratic primary election this summer, Virginia Business magazine president and publisher Bernard Niemeier said.
“Deeds was great in the primary, but that does not seem to be the case,” Niemeier said. “There was a hope that Deeds could reach out to the younger and maybe disenfranchised voters as happened during last year’s presidential election, but that hasn’t really happened in this campaign.”
Kaine pointed out statistics that said Obama is gaining in popularity in the state.
“Our president, President Obama, is more popular in Virginia today than he was one year ago when he won the election in Virginia,” Kaine said.
Obama appeared at two campaign events with Deeds.
Virginia Democratic Chairman Dick Cranwell, a Virginia Tech alumnus, said Obama’s popularity just was not enough.
“I think the president was a great asset to our campaign,” Cranwell said. “His two appearances helped energize the base and get the vote out.”
Many Democratic supporters say this year’s Democratic state campaign did not have the same ideals as the Obama campaign and thus suffered different results.
“When Deeds was asked if he was an ‘Obama Democrat,’ he hesitated and said that he was a ‘Creigh Deeds Democrat.’ This is showing that Deeds was not fully embracing the top of the Democratic party — he was basically saying he was ashamed of it,” said Democratic supporter Amir Malik.
Deeds was questioned during the campaign about his views on guns and other social issues. He has supported gun rights in the past, even garnering an endorsement from the National Rifle Association in a previous campaign.
He came closest to McDonnell in the polls after McDonnell’s graduate thesis came to light, which advocated socially conservative viewpoints.