Democrats made significant electoral advances in Virginia Nov. 6, as the key Republican tactic of harping on undocumented immigration appears to have fizzled.

Going into the elections, the Republicans had 24 Senate seats and the Democrats 17. The Democrats have now picked up at least four seats, giving them a 21-20 majority. In the House, the Republicans lost seats, but apparently will retain a weakened majority. Virginia’s governor, Tim Kaine, is a Democrat.

In the Washington suburban and exurban areas of Arlington, Fairfax, Prince William and Loudon counties, Republican politicians had relied on a scare campaign about a supposed invasion of undocumented immigrants to keep control in Loudon and Prince William and make inroads into Arlington and Fairfax. They had passed viciously anti-immigrant ordinances in Loudon and Prince William counties, and had used their bases there to launch fierce attacks against Democratic Fairfax County chair Gerald Connelly and the Arlington County board for not joining them in the anti-immigrant witch hunt.

However, the Democrats held their own, retaining control of Arlington and Fairfax and making inroads elsewhere. Connelly and Arlington County chairman J. Walter Tejada, a Democrat and one of the most prominent Latino politicians in northern Virginia, swept to easy victories.

In Prince William County, anti-immigrant ideologue and Republican incumbent for county board chairman Carey A. Stewart was re-elected, but was given a run for his money by Democrat Sharon Pandak. The Democrats appear to be winning in Loudon County in spite of the Republican harping on the immigration issue.

These results suggest that the Democrats could also make advances in Virginia in the 2008 national elections. They will have a good chance of picking up the Senate seat of retiring Republican Sen. John Warner, as well as House seats, including possibly that of Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.), whose wife, Jeannemarie Devolites Davis, lost her state Senate seat yesterday.

In addition, the failure of the immigrant baiting strategy to produce GOP victories is seen as salutary by immigrant rights advocates in the area.

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