It is wonderful news that the Democrats have regained control of the Virginia Senate. This should be a huge help on the next re-districting mapping and also should help blunt more Christianist inspired legislation from being enacted.
Also of note was that - in addition to Nick Rerras whose defeat I commented up last night - was that several GOP candidates who had resorted to last minute gay bashing attempts were defeated. One sweet victory was George Barker's win over Jay O,Brien who had sent out fliers attacking Barker for being pro-gay and wanting to inject sex-sex information into elementary school classes (not a true statement, of course, but nonetheless supported by the Republican Party of Virginia). Another defeated Republican was Sen. Jeannemarie Devolites Davis (pictured above), wife of GOP Congressman Thomas M. Davis, III, who threw $400,000 into her campaign.
Democrats also have a chance to pick up another Senate seat in Fairfax. With only absentee ballots left to be counted, Sen. Ken T. Cuccinelli II (R) - a vile homophobe - held a 69-vote lead over Democrat Janet S. Oleszek.
Here are some highlights from the Washington Post's coverage (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/11/07/AR2007110700553.html):
Democrats wrested control of the Senate from the Republicans in yesterday's legislative elections, picking up the four seats they needed to give them a majority of at least 21 to 19 and end a decade of GOP dominance in the chamber. Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) claimed victory in a celebration at Tysons Corner. The Republicans retained control of the House, but the Democrats also gained seats there. The party's surge will help the governor advance much of his agenda during his last two years in office, including investing more in education, health and the environment.
Sen. Richard L. Saslaw (D-Fairfax) said the gains in the Senate will be significant for Northern Virginia residents "because virtually every senator up here becomes a committee chairman. That's huge." Saslaw, who will probably be majority leader, also becomes chairman of commerce and labor, for instance. "There will be a heavy urban focus," he said in an interview, referring to the Senate under new leadership. But he also sought to strike a centrist note, saying: "The state Senate has always governed from the center. That's what we do."
For most of the year, Republicans have been worried President Bush's unpopularity could become a drag on their candidates. Several Democratic candidates, particularly in Northern Virginia, sought to make their race in part a referendum on GOP policies in Washington. The message appeared to be particularly effective in Hampton Roads, where Democrats won two seats over conservative Republicans. In the Senate contests, Democrat Ralph S. Northam beat incumbent Sen. D. Nick Rerras (R) in the Norfolk area. John C. Miller (D) beat Patricia B. "Tricia" Stall (R) in the other Tidewater race.
Oleszek and Barker argued that Cuccinelli and O'Brien, who are among the most conservative members of the Senate, were out of the step with Fairfax County residents' views on social issues.
Hopefully, this shift away from the GOP will continue into 2008 and result in Virginia supporting the Democrat candidate for president for the first time in decades.