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GOP Wins Seat in Virginia

The narrow victory of State Senator Randy Forbes gives the GOP a 12-vote majority in the House, with 220 Republicans, 210 Democrats and two independents.

The election in the Tidewater region of Virginia followed the death of longtime Democratic member Norman Sisisky on March 29.

Both national parties poured money into the race between state senators Forbes and L. Louise Lucas. Reports indicated combined spending topped $4 million, or roughly $30 for each vote cast in the special election.

Republicans were quick to declare the victory an affirmation of their agenda.

“Randy Forbes’ victory is a monumental win for Republicans in Virginia and nationwide, and a great momentum-builder for our upcoming challenges in 2001 and 2002,” James Gilmore, Virginia governor and chairman of the Republican Nation Committee, said in a statement.

Democrats defended the candidacy of Lucas, an African American legislator who focused on Social Security and Medicare while on the campaign trail.

Election Totals

“A victory by State Senator Louise Lucas would have been historic. It would have made her the first African-American woman elected from the state of Virginia,” U.S. Rep. Nita Lowey, chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, told reporters. “Unfortunately, making history is difficult and, despite our best efforts, we fell just short.”

National trends?

The Republican gain comes barely a month after James Jeffords announced his departure from the GOP, tipping the balance of power in the Senate to the Democrats.

“This speaks volumes as to where the country wants to go, as opposed to the idiosyncrasies of one senator,” Virginia Rep. Tom Davis, chairman of the Republican National Congressional Committee, told the Associated Press.

Democrats, and some political scientists, countered that the race boiled down to local political support and ability to get out voters for a special election.

“It was a local race and it will only impact local voters,” Lowey said. “There was not national theme to this race.”