Former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner defeated incumbent Republican Sen. Jim Gilmore Tuesday 64 percent to 34 percent, contributing to the Democratic Party's 56-40 majority in the U.S. Senate.
The race, announced by television networks at around 7 p.m., marked the first time since 1970 that Virginia has had two Democratic representatives in the Senate.
"I'm ready to get to work," Warner said at around 10 p.m. to a crowd of more than 1,000 people at the Hilton McLean Tysons Corner hotel.
"Tonight by a record margin," he said, referring to his roughly 30 percent lead over Gilmore, "Virginians said they wanted the next senator to focus on results, not rhetoric."
Warner captured the majority vote from every county in Virginia with the exceptions of Rockingham, Augusta and Hanover counties.
While the Democratic Party celebrated the victories of both Warner and President-elect Barack Obama, both Republican Sen. John McCain and Gilmore conceded their losses.
"I have called Governor Warner and expressed my concession and my congratulations," Gilmore said at the Richmond Marriott West in Innsbrook around 9:15 p.m. "The people of Virginia have spoken, and he will represent them."
Many of Gilmore's supporters praised him for taking on a battle that a slew of other potential Republican candidates had shied away from. Gilmore made a somber speech and thanked those who worked so diligently against mounting odds.
"There is nothing more this party could have done," he said. "They have given their heart and soul to this campaign."
Both in Tuesday's victory speech and at Monday's Democratic rally at Virginia Commonwealth University, Warner stated his credentials and announced his plans in the Senate.
"The most quintessential American value is to turn challenges into opportunities," Warner said, which he displayed during his time as governor of Virginia.
During Warner's gubernatorial term, Governing Magazine named Virginia the best-managed state in the nation. Forbes also named Virginia the best state for business based on its tax structure, education system and fiscal management system that the Warner administration had put in place.
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"Virginia inherited an incredible fiscal mess from my Republican predecessor who happens to be my opponent, Jim Gilmore," Warner said. "For those first few years, we had to make hard choices and we had to dig Virginia out of this fiscal ditch. Who could have imagined that digging Virginia out of a fiscal ditch left over by a Republican administration proved to be the best training possible for a U.S. Senator come January?
"Our nation must do what's necessary to ensure that America maintains its competitive edge. We need to make sure that America has the best workforce in the world."
Warner said that as the governor who had made the largest investment in higher education in the history of Virginia, he would create a plan in Washington to make higher education affordable.
To remedy the financial market, Warner also suggested encouraging the nation to establish a domestic auto base through funding by the government and Fortune 500 companies.
"We need to tell carmakers to produce vehicles that will give us 100 mpg," Warner said. "We need to develop that with American technology and they have to be built by American workers. In three years, we could be selling cars to China and Japan rather than the other way around."
In order to achieve these goals, Warner said Republicans and Democrats needed to work together in Washington D.C. He said this collaboration was evident in Virginia with more than half of his supporters being Republican and Independent officials.
Robert Michael Mohler, president of the Virginia Professional Firefighters, said he thought Warner could be president within the next eight years.
"I think Warner has the ability to work across party lines which he demonstrated in Virginia," Mohler said. "He would be a good bid as president."
Reporter Duncan Phillips contributed to this article
Contact writer Carly Gorga at firstname.lastname@example.org
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