December 17, 2008
After a massive recount effort, the fifth district Congressional race is over. Tom Perriello has been officially certified the winner.
The Democrat unseated his Republican, six-term incumbent by just 727 votes, which makes the race even closer than the first tally showed. Final numbers showed Perriello with 158,810 votes to Goode's 158,083 votes.
The recount only produced an 18 vote difference from the official results back in November.
Perriello's family was in the courtroom, and they were quite relieved with the outcome.
The political newcomer from Ivy expressed relief after a long and arduous campaign on both sides.
"We're incredibly gratified to know that this process is over, and with everything finalized it's clear that the voters of the fifth district have chosen me to represent them during this very very difficult economic time," said Tom Perriello (D), Congressman-Elect.
After two days of counters deliberating and meticulously counting and re-counting ballots, the three judges made the announcement at 4:30 pm Wednesday. Discrepancies with ballots from Halifax County caused a delay.
"There seemed to have been more ballots cast than people voting. And they're trying to figure out if that was a clericla error or if something more serious happened," said Rick Sincere, of the Charlottesville Board of Elections.
Attorneys from both camps agreed that those 63 ballots from Halifax needed to be counted. 43 of them went in favor of Goode while 20 went for Perriello. But the small increase for Goode didn't alter the final tally.
Virgil Goode released this statement congratulating Perriello:
"I congratulate Mr. Perriello and wish him well as he represents the Fifth District. Although the recount made vote changes in 14 of the 22 jurisdictions, and although we gained a few votes, the recount has confirmed earlier indications that Mr. Perriello had the most votes.
I extend special thanks and appreciation to all the volunteers who worked as observers and in other ways during this recount process. I am also grateful for the election officials that conducted the recount."
Perriello said the recount was important for the Democratic process, but he says he never had any doubts he'd win.
"Take a deep breath and make sure both sides get to observe it and move forward, but they don't get to change anything, and we saw that today with no real change in vote count," said Perriello.
The Democrat released the following victory statement:
"I'm gratified that after an exhaustive democratic process, we now can say with certainty that this election is over, and the fifth district has asked me to fight for jobs and economic relief in Washington. I am humbled that the voters have entrusted me with this sacred duty, and I am eager to represent the entire district as we work together to put our communities back on the path to economic revival.
When people ask how we were able to come from 34-points behind to win in a district that John McCain carried, I tell them of our commitment to a people-powered campaign, fueled by thousands of individuals and the largest grassroots network the district has ever seen. We showed with this historic upset that people are ready to trade in the old politics of fear and division for a new style of positive, solutions-oriented public service.
I thank the hundreds of elected officials and volunteers from both sides who put in overtime this holiday season to ensure an accurate final count. I am disappointed that the court denied my request to count the votes of those brave men and women serving overseas that arrived after the deadline, even though it would not have altered the outcome. I pledge that standing up for our servicemen and women overseas and our veterans as they return home will always be a priority for me. Again, I want to thank all of those who worked tirelessly over the past few days and weeks to ensure a fair and accurate vote count.
As I first declared in Martinsville after the vote canvass was completed last month, my double-shift working for the people of the fifth district is well underway. Through my on-going listening tour of the district, our Shop the Fifth program, and our transition team, we have not changed our pace or our focus on economic recovery. We face immense challenges in our district and our nation, but the urgency of this moment also presents us with an opportunity to invest in our infrastructure, the new energy economy, and America's new competitive advantage. We are not Democrats or Republicans in this crisis, but Americans, with a common struggle and a common future, and I promise to work a double shift every day for the good of our district."
Perriello told reporters that the first thing he's going to do as Congressman-Elect is go out to dinner with his family Wednesday night and celebrate his hard-earned win.
The victory means Democrats hold a one seat lead in Virginia's U.S. House Delegation.