DULLES, Va. — Hundreds of energetic Democrats spilled into the ballroom where Jennifer Wexton is holding her election night party in Virginia’s 10th District.
It turned into a victory celebration even faster than many had hoped. CNN declared it a win for Wexton well before 8 p.m., projecting she would unseat Rep. Barbara Comstock in one of the first red-to-blue flips of the night as Democrats aim to take back the House.
Wexton took the stage once The Associated Press called the race.
“Oh my gosh, I didn’t know there’d be so many of you. Now you need to forgive me, because I didn’t anticipate that this race would be called so quickly,” she said to chants of “Wexton!”
Watch: Wexton Win Was One of Tuesday’s First Flips
Supporters have been hanging out in the hotel since before 4 p.m., eager to get inside. Before the doors opened to the public, dozens of Washington reporters filled the room. As a suburban race less than an hour outside of the city, media swarmed this party to be a part of the action without venturing too far afield.
The crowd was there not just to witness the felling of an incumbent in this reliably red district, but to see what it would mean for the chamber as a whole.
Wexton party right now as CNN calls the race pic.twitter.com/b435r47YWZ
— Alex Gangitano (@AlexGangitano) November 7, 2018
“Woo!” a spectator who worked on Wexton’s campaign yelled when CNN reported that the Kentucky exit polls showed Amy McGrath with a slight lead over Rep. Andy Barr in the 6th District. (McGrath went on to lose.) Kentucky was among the first states where the polls closed; Virginia was also on that list.
The cheering didn’t stop there as two big screens projected CNN coverage. They were all the decoration the room needed, as far as the partygoers were concerned — that and two cash bars, some well-stocked buffets, and a sprinkling of “Jennifer Wexton for Congress” signs.
Big shouts erupted when CNN called Sen. Bernie Sanders’ re-election in Vermont. Right after, when Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine clinched his re-election bid, the crowd went meta, taking videos and photographs of the screens with their phones. The enthusiasm continued for Democratic incumbent Sens. Bill Nelson in Florida and Joe Manchin III in West Virginia.
But they saved the biggest celebration for last, embracing as their candidate flashed across the chyrons.
When Wexton took the stage around 8:30 p.m., she outlined her goals for the coming term, echoing her key talking points from the campaign.
“We don’t have to live in a nation where people are stripped of their health care, we don’t have to live in a nation where our kids go to schools that are crumbling, we don’t have to live in a nation where children are torn away from their parents at the border and we don’t have to live in a nation where people live in fear of being gunned down in synagogues, churches … our country is better than that,” she said.
She walked off the stage to Jennifer Lopez’s “Jenny From the Block.”
Minutes later, Virginia Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam took the stage to ask the crowd, “We knew we could do it, didn’t we?”
He touted his own win early in 2018.
“The blue wave that was started in 2017 continues to roll across Virginia, and it is all of you that give us inspiration and hope that tomorrow’s Virginia will be just a little bit better than today’s,” he said.