Democrat Tim Kaine defeated Republican George Allen for a Virginia U.S. Senate seat, in a battle of two former governors of the presidential swing state.
The race represented a pairing of former elected officials who left office with high approval ratings. Both had tours on the national stage -- Allen as a U.S. senator who made a brief presidential run; Kaine as chairman of the Democratic National Committee who was on the vice presidential short list in 2008.
Allen lost the Senate seat six years ago to Democrat Jim Webb, who is retiring after his one term. Allen told supporters that he’d called Kaine and conceded.
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“I congratulated him and I pledged my cooperation and support as he undertakes the solemn task of representing the people of Virginia under very difficult times in our nation’s history,” Allen said.
He said the “ideals” he advocated in the campaign of promoting small businesses and economic growth “did not prevail.”
“I pledge my best effort as a private citizen to promote these principles,” he said.
The candidates’ messages on the economy and government spending were almost indistinguishable from those of Republican Mitt Romney for Allen and President Barack Obama for Kaine.
Polls showed the race in a tie for much of the campaign. Kaine ran stronger in the northern Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C., while Allen had the advantage in the more rural and southeastern parts of the state.
Bob Holsworth, a political scientist and former professor at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, said both candidates figured that the result of the presidential race would track their own prospects. Still, he said, Allen was more dependent on a Romney victory in the state than Kaine was on an Obama win.
Like Obama and Romney, both candidates vied for the votes of women after reproductive rights became an issue in the state. Republicans gained control of the Virginia Assembly in January and pushed measures on abortion, gay rights and guns that were blocked for decades under Democratic control.
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