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Inside The Fairfax Republican Bunker

Election Night with the GOP at the Marriott Fairfax at Fair Oaks was a bleak affair. The Post's Fredrick Kunkle describes the scene:

Around 10 p.m., well before she conceded, State Sen. Jeannemarie Devolites Davis walked into lobby as if at bankruptcy sale, accompanied by her two daughters. A short woman approached, reached forward and took Davis' face in both hands before planting a kiss on her cheek.
"God has a plan for us all," the woman said.

Supporters gathered round as she took a seat at a table and stared at a laptop that displayed the numbers piling up against her. When it became obvious that the race was lost, she called Democrat Chap Petersen, but could only get his voice mail. She stepped up to the podium to address the crowd.

"It's just not a good year for Republicans," she said. "We will lose the Senate this year, no doubt about it." But she also said she believed it was a cycle that would play itself out.

Fairfax Board Chairman candidate Gary H. Baise, who was trounced by incumbent Democrat Gerald E. Connolly, said he was proud of what he called a high-minded campaign.

"We have given it our all. We stood for the issues that we think are still important. We still stand for a party that is for lower taxes, a party that stands for limited government and limited spending, a party that will not pander with regard to the immigration issue," he said.

Many blamed President Bush for dragging the party down, saying not even good candidates could withstand the impact of his unpopularity. But others said the party must some soul-searching.

"I don't think the traditional Republican anti-tax position sways people in Fairfax County because I think that they make enough money -- they're financially comfortable, they're willing to pay a little more," said Matt Ames, 48, a lawyer from Mantua who worked the polls yesterday. Ames said he sensed looming defeat just by observing the number of Democrats who turned out and their upbeat mood.

Most of the attention was riveted on the Davis-Petersen race. Several Republicans said they were mystified at Davis' strategy of running to the left of the Democrat on issues such as guns. They also wondered what impact Petersen's victory--given the way that the Second Amendment issue played out--will have on the Democratic shift in Northern Virginia.

Paul Moog, 46, the founder of the gun rights group the Virginia Citizens Defense League, said he and other members showed up to gloat over their efforts to defeat Davis. Normally friendly to Republicans who favor gun rights, they were outraged when New York City Mayor Bloomberg--who mounted an aggressive campaign against illegal gun sales in Virginia--campaigned for Davis, and so they urged their members came out for the Democrat this time.

"They came over here to gloat," Moog, of Burke, said. "In this case, Chap Petersen was the best choice because he has a moderate record on guns." Citing victories by Sen. Jim Webb and former Gov. Mark Warner, Moog said: "I think the gun issue has been a winner for the Democrats. I think the Democrats are winning back the gun owners, and this is why they're winning back Virginia."

By Steve Fehr  |  November 7, 2007; 1:23 PM ET
Categories:  Election 2007  
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