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South: Virginia Senate Bright Spot for Democrats

Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call
Former Gov. Tim Kaine won the close Virginia Senate contest, giving Democrats at least one victory to celebrate in the South.

Republicans retain six of seven House seats in Alabama, now that Rep. Spencer Bachus has won re-election, as expected. And the GOP picked up one seat in Arkansas, with Republican Tom Cotton’s 4th district win, handing Republicans control of the entire four-Member delegation. In Mississippi, 1st district Rep. Alan Nunnelee’s win also makes for a largely GOP delegation, with three of four seats in Republican hands.

Republicans also scored easy Senate wins in Mississippi, where Sen. Roger Wicker coasted to victory, and in Tennessee, where Sen. Bob Corker also won as expected. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann (R) also handily won re-election in Tennessee’s 3rd district.

Democrats’ big consolation prize was Tim Kaine’s Virginia Senate victory over Republican George Allen. In the high-dollar contest between the two former governors, Kaine was hammered with more than $24 million in spending by conservative super PACs and advocacy groups, about twice what nonparty outside organizations spent to help him, according to the Campaign Finance Institute.

“Our victory tonight proves that it’s the number of people who stand with you, not the number of zeroes behind the check, that decide elections in the United States of America,” Kaine said in his victory speech. Kaine beat Allen, who also served in the Senate, with 52.4 percent of the vote. Virginia also delivered 13 electoral votes to Obama. The state’s closely watched 2nd district race, however, broke Republican, with Rep. Scott Rigell winning re-election.

Nelson held on to his Florida Senate seat with 55.1 percent of the vote. Florida was also leaning toward Obama at press time, though the race remained too close to call.

Democrats look likely to win the state’s hard-fought 18th district contest between West and Murphy, who at press time was leading by about 2,500 votes.

Also in Florida, former Rep. Alan Grayson (D) will return to the House after winning the newly created 9th district. Another Democrat, former West Palm Beach Mayor Lois Frankel won in the 22nd district, and Democrat Joe Garcia beat Rep. David Rivera (R) in the 26th district.

Republican Ted Yoho, a large-animal veterinarian, won Florida’s open 3rd district seat; Republican Ron DeSantis, a retired Navy officer, won the open 6th district seat, and Republican Trey Radel won the open 19th district seat. GOP Reps. Steve Southerland, Daniel Webster and Vern Buchanan were among the Sunshine State Republicans who won re-election.

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