Although Democrat Jim Mitchell put up a tough fight, in the end voters in the local area ran true-to-form and re-elected conservative Republican Ken Cuccinelli (R-37th) to his seat in the Senate.
But more than that fueled his victory, said Cuccinelli, 35, of Centreville's Hanna Estates community: "[Mitchell] ran the governor's campaign — 'We're gonna trade more taxes for more spending' — and we ran on the idea that we're taxed too much, as it is."
He said it was the same message from the voters as last year, all over again: "Taxes are too high, and we don't trust what government is doing with our money." Said Cuccinelli: "I don't know how many times you've got to deliver that message until it sinks in, and I'll go down to Richmond and deliver it again."
At press time, unofficial results from Fairfax County's Election Board showed Cuccinelli winning with 16,762 votes to Mitchell's 14,658. Totals were from all 225 precincts.
When former 37th District Sen. Warren E. Barry stepped down, Cuccinelli won a special election to finish the rest of his term. On Tuesday, he won a regular election to serve a full, four-year term.
Afterward, he reveled in his victory. "The Democrats spent close to $400,000 total to try to unseat me," he said. "We were around $300,000. But we had 1,100 donors and [Mitchell] had 200."
Besides that, said Cuccinelli, "We ran a very solid grassroots campaign. I spent seven months knocking on doors and finding voters that agreed with me on one issue or another. There's no substitute for one-on-one campaigning."
ACTUALLY, HE SAID, Tuesday was special for more than one reason. "I came to the Fairview precinct during the day," he said. "My mom was there working the voters, and she was crying. She handed me the phone, and it was my younger brother, Maj. Kevin Cuccinelli, an Army doctor with the 4th Infantry Division. He had just gotten back from seven months in Iraq and was in Texas. So it was a day of good news."
The senator and his family — wife Teiro and their five daughters — plan a get-together next week, along with both of Cuccinelli's brothers and their parents. And frankly, he said, he could use a break.
"This was my fifth race in 16 months," he said. "I'm 5-0, but I've been running virtually non-stop for about a year-and-a-half. The legislative session was a break from the campaigning."
In his latest race, Cuccinelli had two private goals. One was beating Mitchell in his home precinct, Virginia Run. "And we did it convincingly, so he's politically done," he said. "The other was improving our standing in the Braddock District."
He'd hoped to win his own home precinct, Old Mill, but this one went to his opponent — although only four votes total were cast there. Afterward, Cuccinelli celebrated at Brion's Grill in Fairfax.
The General Assembly session begins Jan. 14, and he's rarin' to go. His priorities include HOT (high-occupancy travel) lanes and "reining in government spending and local taxes." He's also researching ways to increase the number of in-state students attending Virginia's colleges and universities, without hurting the budget.
As for Mitchell, although disappointed, he said, "I knew when I went into it, it would be a bare-knuckle fight from start to finish. It's a very Republican district. But I have no hard feelings about it or ill will for Cuccinelli. I think he'll probably hold that seat for many years now. I knew this was my last shot — and a long shot, to begin with."