Aftermath: Catching up with pols and parties following Election Day

A view of the Democrats' Albemarle County headquarters earlier in the campaign. Photo by Graelyn Brashear. A view of the Democrats’ Albemarle County headquarters earlier in the campaign. Photo by Graelyn Brashear.

Over the next couple of days, we’ll be checking in with candidates and campaign workers from both parties for a look back at the election. Check back with us as we file updates.

Another term for Hurt

Well before local residents knew Tuesday night that they would have another four years of Barack Obama as president, they learned they’d get at least another two years of Robert Hurt as their representative in the House.

Hurt won with 56 percent of the vote, with Douglass taking 43 percent and Independent Green candidate Kenneth J. Hildebrand taking less than 2 percent. It was a bigger margin of victory for Hurt than in his first Congressional campaign two year ago, when he unseated Tom Perriello with a 51 percent win over Perriello’s 47 percent.

The Associated Press called the race shortly after 8pm, only about an hour after the polls closed. Douglass didn’t concede then, but an hour later, campaign spokesman Chase Winder e-mailed press with an announcement.

“Earlier tonight, General Douglass called to congratulate Congressman Hurt on a hard-fought race that has apparently earned him a second chance to choose good over greed by taking action to stop dangerous uranium mining,” Winder said. “We are all so grateful to everyone who supported General Douglass along the way. Our campaign to help Virginia families will now continue through the good people of the 5th District.”

Hurt gave his victory speech from his hometown of Chatham. “I promise that when we go back to Washington, we’re going to get the job done,” he said. “We’re going to create the jobs in this country that have to be created. We’re going to create a climate in which the small business, the Main Street businesses, the family farmers can succeed. And we’re going to balance the budget. And we’re going to pay down this debt. And it’s because of your work.”

Neither candidate was available for further comment Wednesday, but we spoke briefly with Hurt’s campaign manager, Sean Brown, who watched the results come in Tuesday night with the rest of the team at Hurt’s Chatham office. Brown said the early call of the race in Hurt’s favor wasn’t expected.

“It was kind of surprising, when there were still a lot of precincts left to report.” By that time, though, they were feeling the win was in the bag. “We weren’t really surprised by the result,” he said. “We know Robert’s got the right message and is the right candidate for the 5th District.”

Romney’s failure to win the presidency tempered their joy at their own win significantly. “It’s definitely tough,” Brown said of being handed both victory and defeat. But Romney’s loss isn’t going to stop Hurt from tackling his Washington agenda, he said.

City Democratic co-chair reflects on a long campaign

Jim Nix, co-chair of the Charlottesville Democratic Party, had to hang up and call back from a landline before catching up with C-VILLE the morning after a victorious Election Day, because he’d used up all the minutes on his cell plan in the last few frenzied days of get-out-the-vote efforts.

“It was incredibly intense,” Nix said of the last-minute push to get local Democrats to the polls. The feeling among the party faithful as the results came in was different than in 2008—this time, “the magic wasn’t quite the same,” he said—but volunteers in Charlottesville and the rest of Virginia showed their passion and resolve by turning out in huge numbers to knock on doors and man phone banks leading up to Tuesday.

Nix said there was an air of confidence among Democrats who, like himself, had been religiously following statistics-heavy election forecasters like Nate Silver of the New York Times-run blog FiveThirtyEight, who called the presidential race for Obama based on a proprietary mathematical model that—love him or hate him—has made him a prognosticating wizard.

“It was kind of funny,” Nix said. “Most people who work in campaigns say don’t look at the polls, they don’t matter. But we were all secretly studying FiveThirtyEight before we went to bed and before we got up in the morning. Even the hard-core poll haters admitted they were watching.”

The fact that Virginia has gone blue for the president two cycles in a row is huge, said Nix, and underscores the fact that Obama supporters built a powerful Democratic campaign machine in the Old Dominion. “We’ve developed a really large contingent of people who have learned how to do this really well,” he said.

Still, the biggest sigh of relief for him and many others came after the Senate race was called for Kaine, he said. “That was just incredibly important. We were probably more focused on that.”

And while he’s getting ready to jet to Mexico tomorrow for a long-awaited vacation, there’s little rest for the weary. “I’ve already gotten one e-mail this morning about the 2013 election,” Nix laughed.

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