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Kaine wins close Virginia Senate race

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Click on photo to enlarge or download: Senator-elect Tim Kaine is congratulated Tuesday night in Richmond by his parents, Mary Kathleen and Albert Kaine, after winning the open Virginia seat more easily than most experts predicted he would. SHFWire photo by Jory HeckmanClick on photo to enlarge or download: Senator-elect Tim Kaine is congratulated Tuesday night in Richmond by his parents, Mary Kathleen and Albert Kaine, after winning the open Virginia seat more easily than most experts predicted he would. SHFWire photo by Jory HeckmanRICHMOND, Va. -  After 19 months of neck-and-neck campaigning, Tim Kaine emerged as the victor in Virginia’s Senate race Tuesday night.

Kaine took the stage to thank supporters at 11:15 p.m. With nearly all precincts  reporting, he led Allen by more than 100,000 votes.

“We know that many of our friends and family members are still struggling,” Kaine said. “But I’m not pessimistic because we went through tough times before and we’ve come out stronger.”

The atmosphere in the Richmond Marriott Ballroom was exuberant - several hundred people cheered, hugged, high-fived - even the hotel staff was dancing.

The crowd of supporters chanted “Tim Kaine, Tim Kaine” as he took the stage. And just before launching into his own speech, Kaine announced that NBC had declared President Barack Obama the winner of the presidential election. The crowd went wild.

Richmond resident Nishawn Beckles, 32, screamed and hugged other supporters as CNN showed Obama leading in Virginia.

“I knew it was gonna happen,” Beckles said. “I knew he was gonna win – all Democrats,” she added, referring to both Kaine and Obama. “I think Republicans got a strong message tonight that they’re not gonna get rewarded for their behavior. They have been trying to block everything the president has put forth.”

Unlike Allen’s last defeat in 2006, there is no chance of a recount. Kaine led Allen 52 percent to 48 percent. Because the difference is greater than 1 percent, Allen cannot call for a recount under Virginia law.

Before, during and after poll results, Kaine’s campaign advisers spun the narrative of a positive campaign triumphing over big spenders. The Virginia race was one of the most expensive congressional races in the country with $53 million spent by outside groups such as super PACs, 501(c)(4) nonprofits and political committees.

Most was spent on negative ads and a large portion – more than $20 million - were ads against Kaine. More than $12 million was spent opposing Allen as well, and several million were spent supporting both candidates.

“Even though we faced more negative ads from secretly funded outside group from any race in the country except the president we were able to overcome negative,” Kaine said in his victory speech. “Our victory tonight proves that it’s the number of people who stand with you outweighs the number of zeroes behind the check.”

Reach reporter Emily Wilkins at emily.wilkins@shns.com or 202-326-9867. Reach reporter Jory Heckman at jory.heckman@shns.com or 202-326-9868. SHFWire stories are free to any news organization that gives the reporter a byline and credits the SHFWire.

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