Democrat Tim Kaine will succeed GW alumnus Mark Warner as Virginia’s next governor, after defeating Republican Jerry Kilgore by a six-point margin Tuesday night.
Kaine’s victory with 52 percent of the vote marks the end of a hotly contested statewide race that Kilgore was expected to win not more than two months ago. The Republican candidate was up by 7 percentage points, according to a Sept. 9 Washington Post poll of likely voters.
The election also marks the end of thousands of man-hours of volunteering on the part of two of GW’s most popular student organizations: the College Democrats and the College Republicans.
“I really think Kaine will pull it off,” College Democrat President Stacey Garfinkle said Monday night. “It’s really going to come down to the GOTV (get-out-the-vote) efforts tomorrow . Personally I think he’s going to win. He’s the stronger of the two candidates.”
Garfinkle, a senior, credited student involvement for helping to turn the tide of the Kaine campaign.
“If you were to look at Kaine’s poll numbers over the summer, he was way behind – people were saying it can’t be done,” she said. “But the fact that students . have been getting out the message about what Tim Kaine is all about . I think you can really see (their) power.”
Garfinkle said the College Democrats have volunteered for the Kaine campaign every weekend since the semester began. The student organization has been working closely with the campaigning arm of the state Democratic Party that uses volunteers for many races, not just the governor’s.
Garfinkle said her members have gone into Northern Virginia for canvassing trips and for phone-banking. This past weekend, a bus of students went to Charlottesville, Va., for a rally with Warner.
“When you’re talking about a race that’s this close obviously we’re going to want to do everything we can to inform voters,” she said.
The College Republicans have also been very active the past two months with get-out-the-vote efforts for their candidate, said Chris Brooks, the organization’s public relations director.
“We’ve been working with the (Republican National Committee and) they’ve been sending buses out there every weekend,” Brooks said. “(The CRs) have been going door to door and phone-banking in Virginia.”
Brooks estimated that almost 40 members of his group campaigned in Virginia this past month, adding that a lot of members were also volunteering in New Jersey’s gubernatorial race. Democratic Sen. Jon Corzine beat Republican Doug Forrester roughly 53 percent to 43 percent, according to an Associated Press report from early Wednesday morning.
Tuesday’s election wasn’t as rousing for some Virginian natives on campus as it was for political activists in the College Democrats and the College Republicans.
Senior Brendan Dahl, an Arlington, Va., resident who lives at his home in Northern Virginia during the academic year, said he didn’t vote because schoolwork took priority.
“I had a midterm today and it went right out of my head,” he said. “(For) the people I know, college comes first.”
Justin Bland, a senior who’s from a city 20 miles west of Richmond, Va., but lives in D.C., said he voted by absentee ballot for Kaine.
Although Bland couldn’t travel home to vote or volunteer for his candidate, he said he knows that a lot of “CDs who aren’t even Virginians are in the race for Kaine.”