Don Beyer easily re-elected, Hillary Clinton takes Virginia

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By Chris Teale and Erich Wagner

Editor’s note: the following appeared in the November 10 edition of the Alexandria Times

U.S. Rep. Don Beyer cruised to re-election in Virginia’s 8th congressional district, securing his second term in Congress with well over 60 percent of the vote.

With all precincts reporting, Beyer had received 68.36 percent of the vote, with a total of 245,775 ballots cast. Republican challenger Charles Hernick garnered 27.29 percent for 98,123 votes, while Independent Julio Gracia won 4.07 percent for 14,617 votes. There were also 1,034 write-in votes.

“I’m thrilled to have the honor to serve again,” Beyer said in an interview Tuesday night. “I love the job, and I’m just thrilled I have the chance to actually serve for two more years.”

In a district that includes the cities of Alexandria and Falls Church as well as Arlington County and parts of Fairfax County, Beyer said he was pleased that the district’s campaign was run in a good spirit.

“I think we got through the whole race without anybody saying anything mean or cruel or nasty about each other,” he said. “There were some policy differences, but in general it was the way I think races should be run: with respect for each other. I was happy about that.”

Hernick said Wednesday morning that he was happy with his campaign, and that he would likely pursue another office at some point in the future.

“It turns out I couldn’t beat the odds, but despite a lot of good effort I’m very proud of the campaign that I ran,” he said. “I was able to pull together a coalition that included a lot of Republicans, a lot of Independents and even Democrats that were dis- enchanted with what they were seeing in the political system. … I’m quite proud of the margins I was able to accomplish in a difficult election year for a lot of people.”

Vice Mayor Justin Wilson said Beyer faces an interesting challenge when he begins his second term in Congress, given that the legislature remains under Republican control and will be joined by a Republican commander in chief: President-elect Donald Trump.

“I think he was very close to the outgoing administration, so in a new administration his role will change,” Wilson said. “I’m excited he’s back there. I think there is probably nobody in Congress with the depth of intelligence and experience that he has, and he certainly, as now a returning freshman who was re-elected, is certainly first among equals in his class.”

Elsewhere on the ballot, the proposed amendment to the Virginia Constitution to ex- empt families of first responders killed in the line of duty from property taxes passed easily. The amendment to instill the commonwealth’s so-called “right to work” law in the constitution failed narrowly after a campaign against it by statewide Democratic parties, who see the law as anti-collective bargaining.

“I think it’s not so much the right to work, but to have good wages, good conditions for workers, things like that,” said City Councilor Paul Smedberg of Democratic opposition to the measure. “You don’t want workers to be taken advantage of, that they’re treated properly. Just because they have a right to work doesn’t mean they should be treated poorly and be taken advantage of, potentially.”

The presidential election was tight in Virginia for its 13 Electoral College votes, but Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton prevailed at approximately 10:30 p.m., when the race was called by NBC News.

Mayor Allison Silberberg said she was proud of Alexandria’s contribution to the effort to elect Clinton.

“Back in 2008, if I remember correctly, Virginia put [President Barack] Obama over the top, and Northern Virginia was the force behind that,” Silberberg said. “Once again, we worked very hard here.

“It’s closer than we thought it would be, but Virginia is going to Clinton, and now we’re just waiting for returns from other states.”

Silberberg said it felt significant on a personal level to be able to vote for a candidate who could become the United States’ first woman commander in chief.

“I did think about it earlier today,” she said. “It was an amazing feeling. My mother’s grandmother was a suffragette, so for me it was very personal. And like President Obama has said, Secretary Clinton is the most qualified person to run for president, period.”

Clinton did not prevail nationwide in the Electoral College, despite results Wednesday morning suggesting she won the popular vote. The mood at the Alexandria Democratic Committee’s results watching party at Pork Barrel BBQ on Mount Vernon Avenue began as a packed upbeat affair, with supporters loudly cheering early results in favor of Clinton.

But as the night dragged on, those cheers grew quieter and happened with less frequency, and residents began to file out. Some supporters were surprised by the results that reportedly went against both public and private polling data.

“I think I’m shell-shocked at the moment,” said local resident Joe Valenti. “The level of support in Virginia for Hillary Clinton has been extremely strong and extremely welcoming.”

“I’m happy with the results, and I was proud today to cast my ballot for Hillary Clinton,” said local activist Jessica Killeen. In addition, Killeen said she knocked on doors on behalf of the Alexandria Democratic Committee for Clinton, and visited Seneca Falls, N.Y., which hosted the first ever women’s rights convention.

Wilson said he and some of his colleagues had a conversation on Skype overnight with their counterparts in Alexandria’s sister city of Caen in France. Wilson said there was a lot of concern, and that there were plenty of parallels being drawn with the current situation in Europe.

“They were pretty surprised, although I think they tied it to the larger narrative of Brexit and the stuff that’s going on in the French government as well and the French population,” he said. “I think it’s true. Some of the same themes that drove Brexit with the immigration and concerns about that as well as the larger concerns around trade and the economic displacement that trade potentially causes, I think those same themes are what went through the results in some of these Rust Belt states in America last night.”

Original post, last updated 9 a.m. November 9 to reflect that all precincts are now reporting.

By Chris Teale (File photo)

U.S. Rep. Don Beyer cruised to re-election in Virginia’s 8th congressional district, securing his second term in Congress with well over 60 percent of the vote. Later in the evening, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton held off Republican rival Donald Trump for Virginia’s 13 Electoral College Votes in the presidential race.

With all precincts reporting, Beyer had secured 68.36 percent of the vote, a total of 245,775 ballots cast. Republican challenger Charles Hernick took 27.29 percent for 98,123 votes, while Independent Julio Gracia won 4.07 percent for 14,617 votes. There were also 1,034 write-in votes.

“I’m thrilled to have the honor to serve again,” Beyer said in an interview Tuesday night. “I love the job, and I’m just thrilled I have the chance to actually serve for two more years.”

In a district that includes the cities of Alexandria and Falls Church as well as Arlington County and parts of Fairfax County, Beyer said he was pleased that the district’s election was run in a good spirit.

“I think we got through the whole race without anybody saying anything mean or cruel or nasty about each other,” he said. “There were some policy differences, but in general it was the way I think races should be run: with respect for each other. I was happy about that.”

Beyer said he will continue to focus on helping Northern Virginia adapt to the modern economy in his second term, work on climate change and women’s economic empowerment. His re-election won praise from Democratic Party of Virginia chairwoman Susan Swecker.

“Congressman Don Beyer’s first term produced exceptional results for Virginians across the 8th congressional district,” Swecker said in a statement. “Whether it’s fighting for common sense gun reform or bringing attention to the devastating effects of climate change, Don Beyer has been a sharply focused problem-solver for the critical issues that face our commonwealth. We’re eager for him to continue his work for all of Northern Virginia.”

Elsewhere on the ballot, the proposed amendment to the Virginia Constitution to exempt families of first responders killed in the line of duty from property taxes passed easily. The amendment to add so-called “right to work” to the constitution failed narrowly.

The presidential election went down to the wire in Virginia for its 13 Electoral College Votes, but Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton prevailed at approximately 10:30 p.m., when the race was called by NBC News.

Mayor Allison Silberberg said she was proud of Alexandria’s contribution to the effort to elect Clinton.

“Back in 2008, if I remember correctly, Virginia put [President Barack] Obama over the top, and Northern Virginia was the force behind that,” Silberberg said. “Once again, we worked very hard here.

“It’s closer than we thought it would be, but Virginia is going to Clinton, and now we’re just waiting for returns from other states.”

Silberberg said it felt significant personally to be able to vote for a candidate who could become the United States’ first woman commander in chief.

“I did think about it earlier today,” she said. “It was an amazing feeling. My mother’s grandmother was a suffragette, so for me it was very personal. And like President Obama has said, Secretary Clinton is the most qualified person to run for president, period.”

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