Democrat Terry McAuliffe won the Virginia governor's race Tuesday, squeaking by Republican Ken Cuccinelli with the help of voters in the Washington suburbs.
McAuliffe's victory was an affirmation of his strategy to portray Cuccinelli, the state attorney general, as a Tea Party champion who is too extreme for Virginia.
After a bitter campaign, the former national chairman of the Democratic Party vowed to be "a governor for all Virginians." McAuliffe also pleaded with supporters of his GOP rival and Libertarian Robert Sarvis.
"I understand that emotions are raw. I have been there. I get it," McAuliffe said. "I expect you to hold me to my pledge to work with both sides."
Cuccinelli told his supporters that he was disappointed in the outcome. "I am immensely proud of the campaign we ran," he said. "We were heavily outspent, but I'm proud we ran on first principles and serious ideas based on those principles."
McAuliffe, known best as a fundraiser for Bill and Hillary Clinton, portrayed his GOP rival as a hard-line conservative in the mold of Sen. Ted Cruz, the Texas Republican who helped force the partial government shutdown that hit hard in a state dependent on federal jobs and the military.
McAuliffe and his allies used the Democrat's financial advantage in the race to pay for a barrage of negative ads saying Cuccinelli would restrict abortion and take away women's access to health care.
Cuccinelli countered by hammering on McAuliffe's questionable business ventures and ties to Obama and the Clintons.
"This has been one unbelievably relentless, low-road, negative campaign," said Mark Rozell a political scientist at George Mason University. "Each candidate has tried to convince voters that the other is the more horrible alternative of the two."
Original headline: McAuliffe narrowly elected Va. governor
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