It’s been a long, hard-fought battle for Virginia’s U.S. Senate seat between Republican nominee Daniel Gade and incumbent Democrat Mark Warner. And that battle will carry on just a bit longer.
As ballot counting and reporting by the Virginia Department of Elections paused just past 11 p.m. on Election Night, Gade told supporters that he’s not going to concede the race.
“But just like I conceded nothing when I was in combat, just like I conceded nothing in the hospital, and just like all of us conceded nothing this entire race, I concede nothing, and I’m coming for you Mark Warner!” Gade said to cheers from supporters, campaign staff and friends and family. About 200 people gathered at the Hilton Hotel in Short Pump for the Gade campaign’s Election Night party.
Pre-election polling had Sen. Warner comfortably ahead of his Republican challenger in Gade by double digits. The mood in the ballroom was fairly mum at first. People were eating and drinking and conversing amongst themselves, but there wasn’t a ton of excitement and enthusiasm in the early part of the night. And literally not even a minute after the polls in Virginia closed, the Associated Press had projected the race over. Multiple media outlets across the state followed suit in publishing articles stating Warner had won re-election. But the enthusiasm level picked up when Gade entered the room. He told supporters that the immediate jump to a conclusion was nothing more than fake news.
“A couple of years ago I would’ve never believed there’s something called fake news,” Gade said. “I never would’ve thought it, and then President Trump taught us about fake news. And then we saw it in first person tonight, because at 7:01 the AP called this race with zero percent reporting. They said Warner’s going to win it in a walk-over. Well the AP better walk that back.”
As the initial numbers from votes cast on Tuesday began to roll in, Gade began to see a comfortable lead ahead of Sen. Warner. At one point Gade led by as many as 250,000 votes. But the race tightened as time went on. It proved that Virginians weren’t just going to hand over the Senate seat back to Mark Warner, and Gade continued to take issue with the AP projection.
“They should be ashamed of themselves,” Gade told The Virginia Star in an exclusive interview Tuesday night. “It’s the same people who said from the beginning that Mark Warner is unbeatable. I just reject it entirely, because it discounts the fact that thousands of people have been working for months to make that not true. And tens of thousands of people have donated their money to make this race possible. They’ve outspent me six to one, and if he wins it’s going to be by a tiny percent, and if he loses it’s going to be by a tiny percent. He should be ashamed of that, and Virginians should be proud that they stood to that kind of tyranny.”
The last update on the Department of Elections website, timestamped 12:31 a.m. November 4, showed Sen. Warner leading Gade by 314,698 votes. The state indicated that at 11 p.m. Tuesday ballots cast during Virginia’s early voting period would start to be processed and incorporated into the current reporting. But with 2,565 of 2,585 precincts reporting, and the state planning to pick up counting at some point Wednesday, along with absentee ballots being accepted until noon on November 6, Gade said the message to Virginia voters was clear.
“I think everybody knows now you don’t count this guy out,” he said. “It’s a terrible mistake to count out Daniel Gade. More importantly it’s a mistake to count out my tens of thousands of donors and supporters and workers, because we are absolutely going to work for Virginia values no matter what happens.”
Gade emphasized to supporters at the end of the night that he was in this race for the long haul, knowing that it could be the end of the week before the race is officially done. And with the results showing a tighter race than anticipated, Gade said he wouldn’t want to reverse roles with Sen. Warner.
“One person at least who I would not trade places with for the world, not for the $250 million of ill-gotten gain that has fueled his political career. I wouldn’t trade a thing with Mark R. Warner,” Gade said.
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