Virginia Senate: Gillespie Concedes to Warner

Republican challenger Ed Gillespie has conceded Virginia's close Senate race to incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Warner, nearly three days after polls closed.

"This is obviously a hard-fought race. I am proud of the campaign we have run, and I am proud of every minute of it," Gillespie told reporters shortly after 1 p.m.

Gillespie said he called Warner Friday morning "to congratulate him on his re-election, to thank him for his public service to our commonwealth, and to wish him and his family well."

Noting the closeness of the race, Gillespie told supporters Friday, "We surprised a lot of experts Tuesday night, but you weren't surprised at all."

But he said he will not seek a recount, saying it would be wrong to conduct one when he feels it would not change the outcome.

Warner released a statement Friday after Gillespie's remarks, commending Gillespie on a "hard-fought campaign."

"Representing Virginia has been the honor of my life, and I am gratified that the people of the Commonwealth have rehired me for a new term," Warner added. "I will spend every day working to get the Senate back in the business of solving problems and not simply scoring political points."

Gillespie congratulated several fellow Republicans for their victories Tuesday, including Barbara Comstock for her win in Virginia's 10th District.

"We were a policy-driven campaign," he said, praising his campaign workers for running a positive race.

He said that he and his wife would spend the weekend at their daughter's college.

"It would have been nice to be called 'Senator,' but the best thing I have ever been called is 'Dad,'" he said.

New totals posted by the State Board of Election Thursday afternoon showed Warner with a lead of 16,540 votes over Gillespie, a Republican.

Fairfax County wrapped up its canvass Thursday evening, leaving just 499 provisional ballots to be considered Friday. While errors were discovered that shifted several hundred voters into Warner's column, there were no big changes.

On the same day, Warner had said he was confident his lead against Gillespie would hold up. Warner said the message he takes away from the race is the importance of bipartisanship and cooperation.

"My first task is to be more of a disruptor to show that we can get the Senate to actually work,'' Warner said.

Warner made no apologies for the way he ran his campaign, which appealed more to the political center than the Democratic base. He had been expected to win handily.

RAW VIDEO: Va. U.S. Senate hopeful Ed Gillespie (R) told his supporters he’s going to keep rallying in the coming days — the Virginia U.S. Senate race between Gillespie and Mark Warner (D) was too close to call Tuesday night.

"I know there have been some who have argued for me to be more of a red-meat issue guy. You know, I'm going to stay focused on the issues I think are terribly important to this country,'' he said, citing the budget deficit as a top priority.

Warner has been a leader in bipartisan efforts to reach budget deals that could be tolerated by Democrats and Republicans. He said he believes his colleagues still have a desire for bipartisanship, and he thinks he has a better feel for turning some of those discussions into tangible gains.

The outcome of the race will not have an effect on the balance of power in the Senate.

RAW VIDEO: Va. Sen. Mark Warner delivers a hopeful speech in which he declared himself a winner in Tuesday night’s contest, despite the race being too close to call.
Copyright AP - Associated Press
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