Republican gubernatorial candidate, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli delivers his concession speech with his wife, Teiro, during a rally in Richmond, Va., Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013. Cuccinelli was defeated by Democrat Terry McAuliffe.
Democrat Terry McAuliffe will be the next governor of Virginia, after edging out Republican Ken Cuccinelli, the state's attorney general. But despite the loss, Cuccinelli and his supporters say that there's evidence that conservative principles have traction.
Volunteer Elizabeth Rowe Garrison summed up the two sentiments dominating the room at the Republican election night party in Richmond before the race was called — guarded optimism and anger that this race had taken such a nasty and personal turn.
"I still feel there's a chance for Ken... and Terry McAuliffe ran the dirtiest campaign in the history of the United States," she said.
But Cuccinelli's early six-point lead steadily evaporated as more precincts reported vote totals, and as the crowd watched results on two large projection screens — the intermittent cheers heard at the start of the night grew farther apart and harder to hear. As Northern Virginia counties started reporting their results, Cuccinelli's lead became a two-point deficit.
By 10:30 p.m. Cuccinelli took to the stage to concede the race in a speech that was both emotional and defiant. He said that the defeat was a moral victory of sorts, and noted that his campaign has been outspent 10-1 in the closing week of the campaign.
"We were very heavily outspent, but I'm proud that we ran on first principles, and serious ideas based on those principles," he argued.
The closeness of this race, he said, proved that most Virginians agree with his view that the President Barack Obama's approach to governing is a failure.
"Despite being outspent by an unprecedented $15 million, this race went down to the wire because of Obamacare. That message will go out across America tonight," he said.
Cuccinelli supporter David Alan Carmichael said that it was hard to deny that Libertarian Candidate Robert Sarvis made a difference in the race. Sarvis took home more than six percent of the votes, many of which, Carmichael said, would likely have gone to Cuccinelli.
"Nobody has any doubt that his being the race, was an influence," he said.
McAuliffe's victory breaks a notable streak for Virginia — during the past nine governor's races, the party that controlled the White House at the time has always lost. Cuccinelli has not said what he'll do next, but vowed to fight for his principles whether or not he's holding public office.