Democrat Tim Kaine re-elected to US Senate

Tim Kaine Wikimedia Commons)
Tim Kaine (Wikimedia Commons)

Democrat Tim Kaine defeated a hardcore supporter of President Donald Trump Tuesday to win re-election to the U.S. Senate.

The first-term senator who was Hillary Clinton’s running mate in 2016 defeated Republican Corey Stewart, reaffirming Virginia’s status as a blue-leaning state.

Several GOP-held congressional districts were still too close to call, but Kaine’s easy win is encouraging news for Democrats trying to flip at least four House seats.

“We have to keep Virginia moving and put our country back on the right track. That starts now,” Kaine said on Twitter after the Associated Press called the race in his favor.

Trump was a key focal point of the Senate contest. Kaine’s campaign focused on the need for an inclusive government that worked “for all.”

Stewart accused Kaine of opposing the president’s agenda for political gain, even at Virginia’s expense.

The victory was widely expected as Kaine enjoyed large leads in most public pre-election polls and had a huge cash advantage. Virginia was also home to a blue wave last year, when Democrats won all three statewide contests and made gains in the state House. No Republican has won a statewide race in Virginia for almost a decade.

Because of Kaine’s perceived advantage, the Senate contest in Virginia flew under the radar. More competitive races around the country that could decide control of the upper chamber drew more attention and interest from deep-pocketed outside groups.

Kaine and Stewart often had heated clashes during their three candidate debates, but the rest of the race was largely one-sided. Kaine had more than $20 million to spend on the race and blanketed the state with TV ads. Stewart had only a fraction to spend and relied mostly on social media to try and amplify his voice.

Best known for his outspoken support of Confederate imagery, Stewart is a one-time Trump state campaign chairman. But he received almost no help from the White House — Vice President Mike Pence traveled to Virginia multiple times but never campaigned with Stewart.

Kaine spent much of the campaign trying to help Democratic U.S. House candidates win GOP-held seats, even in deep red parts of the state.

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John Mangalonzo (john@localvoicemedia.com) is the managing editor of Local Voice Media’s Virginia papers – WYDaily (Williamsburg), Southside Daily (Virginia Beach) and HNNDaily (Hampton-Newport News). Before coming to Local Voice, John was the senior content editor of The Bellingham Herald, a McClatchy newspaper in Washington state. Previously, he served as city editor/content strategist for USA Today Network newsrooms in St. George and Cedar City, Utah. John started his professional journalism career shortly after graduating from Lyceum of The Philippines University in 1990. As a rookie reporter for a national newspaper in Manila that year, John was assigned to cover four of the most dangerous cities in Metro Manila. Later that year, John was transferred to cover the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines. He spent the latter part of 1990 to early 1992 embedded with troopers in the southern Philippines as they fought with communist rebels and Muslim extremists. His U.S. journalism career includes reporting and editing stints for newspapers and other media outlets in New York City, California, Texas, Iowa, Utah, Colorado and Washington state.