Democrat Terry McAuliffe eked out a narrow victory in the Virginia governor's race on Tuesday night, defeating Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) and Libertarian candidate Rob Sarvis.
McAuliffe's victory speech focused on bipartisanship. He thanked the Republicans who backed him in the race and said the victory was hard fought.
"This election was never a choice between Democrats and Republicans," McAuliffe said. "It was an election over whether Virginia would continue the mainstream bipartisan tradition that served us so well."
McAuliffe's win ends months of him leading Cuccinelli in most polls. It also marks a victory for a number of outside groups that poured millions in the race in support of McAuliffe and against Cuccinelli like Independence USA PAC and Planned Parenthood.
Democrats see the victory as proof that hitting conservative candidates on their tea party leanings can win elections.
"The Republican brand has become the tea party brand. They are inseparable now," Democratic National Committee Communications Director Mo Elleithee told TPM. "Kind of take a step back from just Virginia. Joe Lhota up in New York, where they haven't elected a Democrat in 20 years, spent the entire general election trying to distance himself from the Republican Party brand, even though he previously called himself a Goldwater Conservative, tried to distance himself from the Republican brand. That didn't work. Polling is showing that for the first time the tea party and the Republican Party are polling at the same abysmal level."
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