After months of campaigning and debating, Del. Adam Ebbin (D-49) will now face off against Republican Tim McGhee for former state Sen. Patsy Ticer's District 30 seat in November.
Ebbin, locked in what seemed a tight race with rivals Alexandria City Councilman Rob Krupicka and Arlington School Board member Libby Garvey, garnered 4,562 votes with 53 of 54 precincts reporting by 10:30 p.m. Tuesday night, enough to win the party's primary election.
The three had long admitted there were few differences between them politically. Instead, they focused on differing priorities and leadership styles throughout the campaign, which began in earnest after Ticer announced her retirement in the spring.
Ebbin, who has served in the General Assembly since 2004, made no bones about his experience and connections in Richmond while on the trail. Rather than run aggressively against his opponents, the first openly gay member of the state legislature instead set his sights on Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and Cuccinelli Republicans.
Shortly after Krupicka conceded the election, Ebbin said his focus on statewide concerns, rather than his opponents, had led the way to victory.
I think people want a state legislator who is focused on state issues, he said. I know that what they were looking for.
Voter turnout was low across the district, with just 11,769 of 139,566 total voters reportedly casting ballots during a day marked more by an unusual and unexpected earthquake than the primary. Many residents leaving the polls at the Mount Vernon Recreation Center earlier in the day said they voted more out of civic duty or habit than any one particular candidate or issue.
It seemed to be pretty important to have the right people in the statehouse, said Mary Peet. [The candidates] seem to be all pretty progressive and liberal.
Patty Moran called it a tough decision between the three candidates. But there was no one overriding concern that drew her out to the polls, she said.
The only concern fellow voter Jamel Saafi was with the ground's shaking and rolling earlier in the day.
I just came out to do my civic duty... You have to do your civic duty, he said. I'm glad there were no major issues with the earthquake.
Though Ebbin was congratulated by supporters as the state's newest senator at his victory celebration, he will still face McGhee in the general election come November. The next leg of the campaign will help him become a better state senator, Ebbin said.
I think the race will make me more effective, just as the primary race helped me learn a lot, he said.