DMV Daily: D.C. Region Bucks the Trend

Democrats strong in city and region

D.C. remains Democrat City. Though incomplete results show Republicans gaining 60 seats in the House and six in the Senate, Washington itself, and the surrounding area, remained immune to the trend.

As expected, Democratic incumbents in D.C.-area Maryland House races were easily re-elected. Donna Edwards took 84 percent in the Fourth District, Steny Hoyer 64 percent in the Fifth, and Chris Van Hollen 73 percent in the Eighth. Sen. Barbara Mikulski took 62 percent against Republican Eric Wargotz.

Martin O’Malley won a second term as Maryland’s governor by a wider-than-expected margin, taking 56 percent to Republican Bob Ehrlich’s 42 percent. A philosophical Ehrlich wished O’Malley well in his concession statement, saying, “For us, this closes a chapter. And it's not sad -- please believe me, it's not sad. You win, you lose, it's part of life.” Even though it was a GOP night elsewhere, Ehrlich observed, “It’s Maryland, and being a Republican in Maryland is difficult.”

In Virginia, Republican Rep. Frank Wolf easily won re-election in the 10th District. The Eighth District race, which some expected to be close, was not: Democratic Rep. Jim Moran took 61 percent of the vote to Republican Patrick Murray’s 37 percent.

The 11th District race between freshman Democratic Rep. Gerry Connolly and Republican Keith Fimian remains too close to call. The lead shifted back and forth throughout the evening, and Connolly now leads by less than 500 votes out of nearly 225,000 tallied. Absentee votes are being counted, and a recount is probably inevitable.

In the District, Vincent Gray was finally elected mayor, but with just 74 percent of the vote. Nearly 23 percent of voters cast write-in ballots, and though they will never be formally tallied -- D.C. only examines write-in ballots if they have a chance of changing the result -- it’s safe to assume that most of them were for Adrian Fenty. Independent Carlos Allen received 1.7 percent, Statehood Green candidate Faith 1.1 percent, and Socialist Workers candidate Omari Musa took 0.5 percent.

The biggest surprise in D.C. returns was the scale of Republican defeats. Though Democratic Council incumbents were expected to be re-elected, two GOP candidates who were seen as credible contenders were slaughtered.

In Ward 1, Marc Morgan took just 7.6 percent in his run against incumbent Democrat Jim Graham, running behind a low-profile Statehood Green candidate. Even worse for the GOP, Ward 5’s Tim Day -- taking on embattled incumbent Democrat Harry Thomas Jr. and boosted by a Washington Post endorsement -- received just 5.9 percent, trailing even Kathy Henderson, a controversial independent.

Dave Hedgepeth made a respectable showing against Democratic incumbent Mary Cheh in Ward 3, but still garnered just 34 percent of the vote. It seems that despite running a committed slate of serious candidates, the D.C. GOP has a long way to go. As Ehrlich might have put it, it’s D.C., and being a Republican in D.C. is difficult.

One bright spot for District Republicans: Patrick Mara defeated incumbent Dotti Love Wade in the Ward 1 State Board of Education race, 53 percent to 46 percent. Though the contest was nonpartisan, Mara is a past GOP candidate -- and perhaps a future one as well.

The bitter Advisory Neighborhood Commission race in 8C03 between controversial incumbent Mary Cuthbert and on-again, off-again young challenger Larry Pretlow wasn’t even close. Cuthbert received 206 votes to Pretlow’s 85.

District voters also re-elected Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, At-Large Council members David Catania and Phil Mendelson, and Shadow Rep. Mike Panetta, elected Kwame Brown Council chair, and approved a measure providing for the election of the D.C. attorney general.

Other Election News from the DMV:

* Fox News reported on its website that Moran refused to accept Murray’s concession phone call after a bitter race in Virginia’s Eighth District.

* Maryland Politics Watch says Democrats probably gained two seats in the state Senate, while Republicans gained six in the state House.

* The Washington Post reports Gray “is scheduled to announce his transition team Wednesday -- a mix of national and local leaders, including former Mayor Anthony A. Williams, public education advocate Katherine Bradley and local Chamber of Commerce President Barbara Lang -- to help him shape policy and to build his Cabinet.” Washington City Paper has some great photos of Gray’s victory celebration.  And you can watch the dancing video here.

* The Georgetown Dish reports on the strong write-in vote in the pro-Fenty neighborhood. Thirty percent of Ward 3 voters wrote in a candidate for mayor. The Post’s Mike DeBonis notes that Precinct 9 in “the tony Spring Valley neighborhood in the city's western corner” was the only precinct in the city “to prefer a write-in candidate to Gray (342-290) and also to prefer Hedgepeth to Cheh” in the Ward 3 Council race.

* The Washington Examiner’s John Vaught LaBeaume says he regretted his vote for Statehood Green At-Large Council candidate David Schwartzman after he ran into the man he’d just voted for outside his polling place.

* The D.C. elections board said one Fenty write-in voter tried to use a rubber stamp with Fenty’s name -- on a touch-screen voting machine.

* Del. Norton says it is too soon to say if the new Republican Congress “will take aim at the District's same-sex marriage, medical marijuana or needle exchange laws,” the Post reports. She said, “Everything we do is threatened, that comes with the territory, but it would be foolhardy to declare those things gone.” While Norton said “anything they pass in the House will fail in the Senate,” she expressed some pessimism: “You wouldn't have thought Congress could get more polarizing than it was under Newt Gingrich, but this may be that Congress.”

Last night, though, Norton was just trying to have a good time:

Follow P.J. Orvetti on Twitter at @PJOinDC

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