'It is Virginia that Turned the Senate Blue'

| Fri Nov. 10, 2006 12:54 PM EST

Shortly after George Allen conceded yesterday, shifting the balance of power in the Senate, Jim Webb appeared before supporters in Clarendon, Virginia, raising his son's combat boots in the air, which he'd worn throughout his hard-fought race.

"We have a much, much stronger Democratic Party," Webb told supporters.

Webb also told supporters he would vote soon on increasing the minimum wage and would address the war on Iraq in the approach he outlined throughout his campaign, calling for the withdrawal of American troops in Iraq, where Webb's son, a marine, is currently serving, and joint diplomatic talks with nations in the region. "I think people care about [Iraq] and that's one of the things that you saw in the election," Webb said. An Associated Press exit poll found the majority of moderates and independents in Virginia voted for Webb, influenced largely by his stance on the war in Iraq.

At the rally, there was quite a bit of jubilation and perhaps some disbelief at the fact that Webb's victory had clinched the Senate for the Democrats.

Supporter Tom O'Brien was impressed with the contribution of volunteers to Webb's campaign. "Just the fact that they had that much dedication and that he was able to get this far is pretty unusual," said O'Brien.

The election's first Virginia-wide poll found incumbent Senator George Allen ahead by 16 points in late July. Webb campaign volunteer S.R. Sidharth has been credited with turning the campaign in Webb's favor after George Allen called the young man of Indian descent 'macaca' in August.

"It is Virginia that turned the Senate blue," Chuck Schumer, chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, told supporters at the rally.

-- Caroline Dobuzinskis

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