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The Deeds party: The candidate makes the early rounds

Both Democratic gubernatorial candidate Sen. R. Creigh Deeds and attorney general candidate Del. Stephen C. Shannon (D-Fairfax) said moments ago that the name of the game tonight is turnout.

The turnout so far inside the Richmond hotel ballroom reserved for their election night bash is sparse. It's scheduled to start at 7:30 p.m.

With little more than an hour to go before the polls close, the room rented out at the Westin had plenty of reporters, video cameras and campaign staffers--but there were virtually no guests in sight so early in the evening.

Candlelit tables covered in white cloth dotted an empty ballroom floor in front of an empty stage, over which a massive banner hung reading: "ALL IN FOR VIRGINIA."

Deeds (D-Bath) made the rounds, stopping to chat with various TV networks. The Washington Post caught up with him for no more than 30 seconds in a hallway before he rushed away toward the lobby.

"I feel great," said the candidate, who lagged in pre-election polls. "We have an hour and 25 minutes left to turn voters out and we're working as hard as we can to get them turned out. What I'm hearing is good news from places like Charlottesville and some areas of Hampton Roads and Roanoke and Arlington, Alexandria--all good for us. We need it to be better, but I'm hearing some good news so far."

He didn't mention Fairfax County, Virginia's largest jurisdiction, and a critical component of a Deeds victory.

Shannon, who appeared more relaxed, declined to make a prediction on the night.

"This is a turnout election," Shannon said. "We know who our people are, and if we can get them to the polls then I'll be elected attorney general, and that's got to be my focus for the next 90 minutes."

U.S. Sen. Mark Warner was expected at the party, but U.S. Sen. Jim Webb will spend the evening at the Fairfax Democratic party.

"Most of our people are out knocking on doors right now," said Deeds spokesman Jared Leopold around 6:30.

Leopold said Deeds was awaiting results, "in a room upstairs with his wife and four kids and a good friend of his from college."

Asked moments later by a passing man if he was drinking regular coffee or "Irish coffee"-(same as regular, plus a dash of whiskey), Leopold replied with a grin, "We'll start with regular."  

If Shannon and Deeds do manage to pull it out, their guests may be surprised by one more omission, at the ballroom's bar. There's beer on ice, wine and bottled water, but so far, no champagne.

-- Jonathan Mummolo

By Anne Bartlett  |  November 3, 2009; 6:22 PM ET
Categories:  2009 Attorney General's Race , 2009 Governor's Race , Creigh Deeds , Election 2009 , Steve Shannon  
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