Virginia Elections: Fimian, Connolly Down to the Wire

The battle for Virginia's U.S. House District 11 seat is going down to the wire.

With 98 percent of precincts reporting both Republican challenger Keith Fimian and Democratic incumbent Rep. Gerry Connolly have 49 percent of the vote.

Connolly leads by fewer than 500 votes.

"We are cautiously optimistic," Connolly campaign spokesman George Burke told NBC Washington Tuesday night.

Fairfax County Registrar Edgardo Cortes said a canvass started at 9 a.m. Wednesday at the Board of Elections office at Fairfax County Government Center.

The first order of business is to count the two precincts that are not yet in the totals, according to NBC4's Julie Carey. In Laurel Hill and Lorton Center, both in the Lorton area, they could not get results out of the machines. When that occurs, they seal the machine and take it to Board headquarters.

Connolly did well in the other Lorton precincts, which is why his camp believes those counts will not change the outcome.

After that, the canvass begins (it wil also be under way in Fairfax City and Prince William County). It may take up until Friday to complete. After that the results go to the State Board of Elections in Richmond. The results will be certified the next time the Board meets on Nov. 22. Only then can Fimian seek a recount (if that's what he decides).

In 2008, Connolly defeated Fimian by 12 percentage points. Addressing supporters, Connolly said it has been a "profound privilege" serving the district.

GOP Unseats Three House Dems From Va.

Republican challengers unseated three Democratic House members, including a 14-term incumbent and a protege of President Barack Obama in Virginia.

In Virginia, as across the nation, conservatives, libertarians and tea party backers rejected big-government initiatives wrought by Democrats who won overwhelmingly two years ago on a campaign of change.

With 91 percent of the votes counted, Republican Morgan Griffith, the Virginia House majority leader, had 52 percent of the vote to 46 percent for Democratic Rep. Rick Boucher, who was first elected in 1982. An independent, Jeremiah Heaton, had 2 percent.

In the Hampton Roads 2nd District, wealthy Republican car dealer Scott Rigell won had 53 percent of the vote to freshman Rep. Glenn Nye, a moderate Democrat.

And in a race regarded as a clear referendum on Obama and the Democratic Congress, state Sen. Robert Hurt had about 51 percent of the vote to Perriello's 47 percent with 94 percent of precincts reporting. Independent Jeffrey Clark got about 2 percent.

Perriello's candidacy always had strong parallels to the White House because Perriello backed key Obama initiatives such as health care reform, the cap and trade bill and the economic stimulus bill.

On Friday, Obama took ownership of the race when he campaigned for Perriello in Charlottesville, the only such trip Obama made this year for an individual House Democrat.

Except for a challenge in 1984, Boucher had won re-election easily in the coal-country district of mountainous southwestern Virginia. He usually carried the district with 60 percent of the vote or more.

But his vote this year for cap and trade legislation aimed at cutting carbon emissions left him vulnerable. Griffith and allied independent groups that don't disclose their donors attacked the vote as a betrayal of the coal industry and called it a job-killing national energy tax.

Boucher also was presented as a rubber stamp for unpopular policies promoted by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Obama.

Griffith won despite Boucher's efforts to make an issue of the fact that he lives in Salem, outside Virginia's 9th District, which he will represent.

Cantor Wins Easily

Republican incumbent U.S. Rep. Eric Cantor easily won another term in Virginia House District 7.

Cantor won 59 percent of the vote to 34 percent for Rick Waugh.

Cantor's the likely House Majority Leader now that the GOP has won control. That would make him the second most powerful House member.

Cantor called the results a wake-up call for the Obama White House. The GOP takeover, he said, means the agenda that made Obama victorious in 2008 will be stalemated in a conservative Congress.

"Any mandate that may be interpreted tonight is one where the people of this country reject the agenda that's been promoted by the Democrats and the White House. I think the for us as Republicans, we're going to get a second chance," Cantor said at a post-election gathering near his suburban Richmond home.

But Cantor said the election shows that Republicans must change.

"We Republicans are a different party than the GOP of 2006," he said. "Our years in the minority have chastened and disciplined our party, and tonight's elections show that the American people say it's time for our party to stop talking and start listening."

Others who won easy re-election over nominal opposition were Republican Reps. Bob Goodlatte in the 6th District, J. Randy Forbes in the 4th, Rob Wittman in the 1st, Frank Wolf in the 10th.

Democrat Jim Moran turned aside a little-known Republican in the 8th District and Democrat Bobby Scott, the state's first black member of Congress, easily beat a black conservative Republican challenger.

Va. Voters OK 3 Proposed Amendments; Another Close

Voters approved proposed Virginia constitutional amendments granting property tax breaks to the elderly and disabled veterans.

They also endorsed a third that would increase the amount of cash the state could save for a rainy day.

The General Assembly endorsed all three earlier this year, but voters must approve the changes before lawmakers could take the next step and pass legislation to make them permanent.

Amendments approved would give local governments greater discretion in granting property-tax exemptions for people who are at least 65, or who are permanently or totally disabled.

Another would compel the legislature to exempt totally disabled military veterans from paying real-estate taxes on their primary homes.

Perriello Campaign Reports Break-in

The Perriello campaign said someone broke into the Democrat's Charlottesville campaign office.

His spokeswoman, Jessica Barba, told The Daily Progress the congressman's office was broken into early Tuesday, Election Day.

Barba said the intruder or intruders tampered with campaign materials intended for the polling place for many University of Virginia students.

The campaign said it filed a complaint with the Albemarle County Police Department. Investigators did not immediately return a telephone message left by The Associated Press.

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