Beyer cruises to victory, Warner holds narrow lead

Beyer cruises to victory, Warner holds narrow lead

By Erich Wagner (Photo/Erich Wagner)

It is now official: former Lt. Gov. Don Beyer (D) will succeed retiring U.S. Rep. Jim Moran (D-8) in Congress in January.

The result was never really in doubt: the district is stacked with consistently Democratic voters, and Beyer had a massive fundraising advantage. In the end, Beyer secured nearly 63 percent of the vote, according to the State Board of Elections’ unofficial tally.

Republican Micah Edmond came in second with 35.6 percent of the vote, while independent Gwendolyn Beck finished with 2.7 percent and Libertarian Jeffrey Carson garnered 2.2 percent.

But in the statewide race, Republican challenger Ed Gillespie significantly outperformed pre-election projections, echoing a nationwide groundswell of support that secured the GOP’s control of the U.S. Senate and a number of unexpected governorships, but may have fallen just short of victory.

According to unofficial tallies Wednesday morning, Sen. Mark Warner (D) held a narrow 16,000-vote lead over the longtime political consultant and lobbyist. Although Warner declared victory shortly before midnight Tuesday, if the margin between the candidates remains less than 1 percentage point after the vote is certified, Gillespie can request a recount, per state law.

In his victory speech, Beyer stressed the need to reinvigorate a spirit of bipartisanship that has largely disappeared from Capitol Hill in recent years.

“We can learn to work together; we cannot be discouraged by people with very different ideas about the direction in which to take this country,” he said. “We must heal the broken relationships between both parties in Washington.”

Moran introduced his newly minted successor, and said that despite the oncoming wave of Republican victories, Democrats must maintain the optimism central to their beliefs.

“We don’t know what the composition of the Senate will be yet, but we do know that this great nation will become more inclusive, more just and more environmentally sustainable,” he said. “That is the optimism of the Democratic Party … and our Democratic values will continue to push this country forward.”

After his speech, Beyer remained focused on building relationships with his new colleagues, both on the right and the left.

“Priority one is finding those dozen relationships with representatives in the House who I can work with, who I can trust and respect,” he said. “It’s not like I’m going to have much sway [as a first-term congressman], so I want to be a good listener, because we have to learn to cooperate to make things in this country better.”

When Beyer held about 65 percent of the vote with 55 percent of precincts reporting, Edmond said he was still waiting for election results to pour in. The candidate did not return calls for comment after The Washington Post called the race in Beyer’s favor around 8:50 p.m.

Elsewhere on the ballot, Virginians reportedly approved a state constitutional amendment exempting spouses of military members killed in action from property taxes by an overwhelming majority of 87 percent, according to unofficial tallies.

Local veterans held a rally last week to garner support for the ballot measure in Old Town. Business owner and U.S. Air Force veteran Fernando Torrez said it is extremely difficult for military spouses to maintain a lucrative career — it always takes a back seat to the soldier’s. He realized the importance of measures like this one when he was deployed at Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar, which he described as a sort of layover base for soldiers heading to and from deployments.

“I met this guy and we sat, and talked for like five or six hours, and he had a family, a dog, basically the spitting image of what I had,” Torrez said. “I remember joking with him, ‘Oh, you’ll come back; you’ll come back with a medal.’

“And he did come back. But he was in a box. When that happened, all I could think about was: What if that were me? Who would take care of my family? Who would take care of my wife?”

Torrez said removing the burden of property taxes of service members’ widows and widowers is a small, but significant way to help them get back on their feet financially.

“It’s the least we can do to help and to say ‘Thank you,’” he said. “I understand that taxes are the core of infrastructure in any city, but it’s because of these people that we are able to charge these taxes in the first place.”