By Erich Wagner (Photo/Erich Wagner)
Local Democrats cruised to victory Tuesday night, while party officials hope to sweep statewide races for the first time in recent memory.
Facing independent Jeffrey Engle, Delegate Rob Krupicka (D-45) won his first re-election bid with 74 percent of the vote, according to unofficial results published by the Virginia State Board of Elections. In citywide races, commonwealth’s attorney candidate Bryan Porter and Sheriff Dana Lawhorne, both Democrats, ran unopposed. Each won with 97 percent of the vote.
At the state level, longtime Democratic fundraiser Terry McAuliffe beat Republican Ken Cuccinelli, Virginia’s attorney general, by a margin of 2.5-percentage points. While many expected McAuliffe to emerge victorious, the narrow margin surprised pollsters and analysts, who didn’t expect such a close race. Libertarian candidate Robert Sarvis garnered 6.5 percent of the vote.
In the race for lieutenant governor, Democratic Ralph Northam easily beat Republican E. W. Jackson with 55 percent of the vote.
With two of the three statewide seats already locked up, Democratic activists are turning to the too-close-to-call attorney general election. According to the unoffical tally at 10 a.m. Thursday, Republican Mark Obenshain led Mark Herring by a mere 681 votes. A recount is expected.
At a local Democratic victory party in Cameron Station on Tuesday night, Krupicka described his party’s strong showing as a wakeup call for Richmond.
“I think the voters sent a very strong message that they want common-ground, results-oriented government,” Krupicka said. “I’m thankful that you all put up with me during a quick election last year, only for me to say after 12 months, ‘Quick, vote for me again.’”
City Councilor Paul Smedberg visited polling places throughout the day and was surprised at how many people came out to vote, given the fact that turnout usually dips in off-year elections.
“I voted around 9:15 this morning, and there was actually a line,” he said.
Smedberg believes McAuliffe prevailed in part because of his consistent campaign message and calls for bipartisanship.
“I think people want someone who is going to be respectful of different opinions,” he said. “People want someone who will govern and lead the state in a respectful way.”
Krupicka said Republicans sealed their own fate by trying to make the election about national issues, as opposed to state and local matters that affect Virginia residents.
“I think they made a mistake to say federal issues were the theme of this election,” he said. “There was a real disconnect between the Republican statewide ticket and the Democrats who were running on making Virginia a better place.”
Krupicka, who joined the House of Delegates last year after a special election victory, pledged to continue focusing on issues like education and transportation.
“Education issues are always big issues to focus on, like high-stakes testing reform and making sure the state and local governments share responsibility [for school funding],” Krupicka said. “And there’s a lot of discussion and debate over how to implement the new transportation money, how to get the best bang for the buck for the state.”
With his re-election, Krupicka has secured two more years in Richmond, which allows him to be more strategic in his pursuit of policy goals.
“The biggest difference [a full term makes] is I can form my legislative agenda with the eye that some things will take multiple years,” Krupicka said. “I get to think about how do I plant seeds that come together over a couple of years.”