In one of the closest races in the Commonwealth, Democrat Stephen C. "Steve" Shannon won the seat representing the 35th district in the House of Delegates, over Vienna native Robert M. "Rob" McDowell (R).
"I feel elated. It was a hard-fought contest," said Shannon, as he emerged from the elevator to greet supporters at the party for Fairfax County Democrats in Merrifield.
The incumbent delegate, Republican Jeannemarie Devolites, opted for a state Senate run instead of re-election.
While the race started out as a friendly exchange between their opinions on education, transportation and taxes, it became more accusatory in tone as Election Day neared, with Republicans questioning Shannon's short-term residency in the district.
Despite that objection, 7,716 voters, or 51.37 percent, elected Shannon to serve as their representative, according to unofficial results from the Virginia State Board of Elections. McDowell received 7,303 votes, or 48.63 percent. Voter turnout was at 29.91 percent.
Both Republicans and Democrats keenly watched the race, each party believing that the district, which is primarily Republican but has supported Democrat candidates in the past, was vulnerable.
Money toward both campaigns flooded into their accounts, with Shannon receiving $268,638 in contributions and McDowell receiving $216,221, as of Sept. 30.
"Steve has already shown he is a leader by creating the AMBER Alert," said Leslie Byrne, outgoing state senator for the 34th district. "He is a go-to guy. He is one to take a leadership position, and I think that is an important thing."
Earlier in the day, McDowell was busy greeting voters at Freedom Hill Elementary in Vienna. The last few days of his campaign to be the next delegate representing the 35th district had been non-stop activity for the Republican. On the morning of Election Day, he woke up before the polls opened, voted in his home precinct, and hoped to hit all 17 precincts in the 35th district before polls close at 7 p.m.
"I've gotten a lot of positive encouragement so far," McDowell said, as he waited for voters to trickle into the voting booths.