Midterm Elections: Goodlatte, Warner Keep Their Seats

By: Zach Watkins, 2L, and Brittany Vitner, 1L
Contributing Writers

Americans took to the polls on November 4th for the 2014 Midterm Elections. At stake in Virginia was one Senate seat and several spots in the House of Representatives.

Lexington and Rockbridge County are in Virginia’s 6th Congressional District, where incumbent Representative Bob Goodlatte cruised to an easy victory. Virginia’s 6th is considered a “safe” Republican district, and that was clear with the early results. Rep. Goodlatte started with a huge lead, and eventually won with 75% of the vote according to local NBC affiliate WSLS. His election chances received a boost when the Democrats decided not to field an opposing candidate. The only opposing candidates were two third-party candidates, Will Hammer, of the Libertarian Party, and Elaine Hildebrandt, of the Green Party, who each won about 12% of the vote.

Rep. Bob Goodlatte

Rep. Goodlatte has served Virginia’s 6th District since 1993. | Source: Source: goodlatte.house.gov

W&L Law students have a connection to Rep. Goodlatte, he is a 1977 graduate of our law school. The campaign highlighted economic issues and his dedication to Federalism. Rep. Goodlatte is the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, a powerful committee that holds jurisdiction over several hot-button issues. One of those issues is immigration. Goodlatte believes in enforcing border security and protecting Americans from the criminal elements that slip into the country hidden among the other immigrants. His role as Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee gives him considerable control over the advancement of immigration legislation.

The highly competitive statewide race for the United States Senate pitted the incumbent, Democratic Senator Mark Warner, against his Republican challenger, Ed Gillespie.

Senator Warner was first elected to the Senate in November 2008. He serves on the Senate Finance, Banking, Budget and Intelligence committees. He has worked to reduce the federal debt and deficit, has been a champion for military men and women, their families, and our veterans. He has also promoted private-sector innovation and worked to help small businesses and start-up companies. Senator Warner previously served as Governor of Virginia from 2002 to 2006, where he also worked on reducing the budget deficit, improving public education and expanding economic opportunity.

Senator Warner narrowly won Virginia against Republican challenger Ed Gillespie, with a margin of less than 20,000, or 1%, of the state’s votes. According to an October 16th Washington Post article, Gillespie’s campaign did not attract the level of national Republican donor support that other competitive races drew. In fact, the Post attributed Gillespie’s surprising decision to withdraw campaign ads for a week in October to his lack of funds.

Senator Warner narrowly defeated challenger Ed Gillespie. | Source: warner.senate.gov

Senator Warner narrowly defeated
challenger Ed Gillespie. | Source: warner.senate.gov

Gillespie held an unexpected initial lead due to a dominating performance in rural Virginia. Only after 11 PM when more northern Virginia precincts tallied their votes did local NBC-affiliate WSLS tentatively project Sen. Warner would indeed retain his seat. Gillespie finally conceeded to Sen. Warner on Friday November 7. The difference in this election ultimately came down to the third-party Libertarian candidate, Robert Sarvis, who pulled 2% of the overall vote.

Midterm elections typically see lower voter turnout than presidential elections. Virginia’s turnout, 36.7% for 2014, dropped over 6% from the 2010 midterms. Statistics show that groups who tend to vote Democrat — people of color, people lacking higher education and voters under 30 — were the least represented in voter turnout, which likely contributed to the Democrats suffering so profoundly this election, in which the Republicans gained control of both the House and the Senate.

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