U.S. Senate majority goes to Democrats

Friday, November 10, 2006

George Allen, incumbent Republican Senator from Virginia, conceded the state's mid-term election to Democratic challenger Jim Webb on Thursday. Democrats have now gained the six seats needed by the party to hold majority control of the Senate.

"The people of Virginia have spoken, they have spoken in a closely divided voice. We have two 49ers," Allen said during the afternoon press conference in Arlington. Allen garnered 49.25% of the vote, compared to the 49.55% who supported Webb. "I do not wish to cause more rancor by protracted litigation that would not, in my opinion, alter the results."

The concession by Allen in traditionally Republican Virginia follows what were once prospects for an Allen 2008 presidential bid. An easy Allen re-election campaign to the Senate was expected, but what came was the Democrats ability to frame the election as a national referendum on the war in Iraq. Democrats may have succeeded nationally to draw on the issue of Iraq, but local politics were very much in play in Northern Virginia.

According to the Virginia Pilot, "Unofficial returns gave Democratic nominee Webb a 120,000-vote advantage over Allen in Northern Virginia's eight localities. But Webb trailed badly across most of the rest of the state and would have decisively lost the election without his Northern Virginia support." The margin by which Webb won was 9,000 votes.

Allen's formulaic stance against tax increases, whether for highway taxes to improve congested northern highway and commuter corridors, or outright fiscal conservativism of all taxes in the face of a burgeoning national deficit, worked against him.

The state constitutional amendment banning recognition of same-sex marriage supported by Allen, but opposed by Webb and Governor Tim Kaine, and most Northern Virginians, worked against Allen in the election.