CHARLOTTESVILLE, Virginia (CNN) – State Sen. Creigh Deeds emerged from a tough and expensive three-way primary battle to capture Virginia's Democratic nomination for governor on Tuesday, a victory that immediately put him in the crosshairs of national Republicans eager to reinvigorate their party with an off-year triumph in the commonwealth this November.
Riding a late burst of momentum, Deeds defeated former Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe, who raised more than $7 million for his primary bid, and former House delegate Brian Moran, who had positioned himself as the most progressive candidate in the race.
The Democratic nominee will now face Republican Bob McDonnell in the general election.
In his victory speech, standing before a blue and white backdrop bearing a striking resemblance to signage used by the Obama campaign last year, Deeds immediately sought to tie McDonnell to former president George W. Bush, accusing both men of supporting a "disastrous economic and social agenda."
"We all know how those Bush economic policies turned out," he said.
ARLINGTON, Virginia (CNN) - Terry McAuliffe conceded a tough loss in an unusually hard-fought Virginia Democratic primary Tuesday night, urging supporters to rally behind the party’s nominee, state senator Creigh Deeds.
McAuliffe, who campaigned in Virginia last year as Hillary Clinton’s finance chair, had run with the backing of national party leaders like Democratic Governor Association chair Brian Schweitzer, but was overtaken in the race’s final weeks by Deeds.
“It may not have turned out the way we wanted, but it was quite a ride,” McAuliffe told supporters at a hotel an Arlington hotel. “…I told Creigh I will give it my 100 percent to help him do what ever it takes to become governor.”
ALEXANDRIA, Virginia (CNN) - In an energetic and positive address to his supporters, former state legislator Brian Moran conceded Tuesday night in Virginia's first contested Democratic gubernatorial primary in nearly 30 years.
"Because of this primary, Creigh Deeds is now an invincible candidate," Moran said shortly after the race was called for Deeds.
He added, "We can hold our heads high."
With the primary now behind him, Moran told the crowd that he was committed to helping Deeds beat Republican nominee Robert McDonnell.
"I told him, Creigh, you're going to have me by your side," Moran said. "We're going to work as hard as we possibly can. We will win in November."
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Virginia (CNN) - While many observers expected a late night of watching election returns Tuesday to see who would win the three-way Democratic gubernatorial primary, state Sen. Creigh Deeds was able to claim victory not long after the polls closed.
Why the quick call? Deeds was able to win the nomination, in part, because of his strong showing in the Washington, D.C. suburbs in northern Virginia.
His opponents, former Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe and former House delegate Brian Moran under-performed on their home turf of northern Virginia. Deeds, meanwhile, helped his chances by racking up big margins in the southern and western parts of the commonwealth - his political base.
The state senator also outperformed McAuliffe in Richmond and Hampton Roads, where the former DNC chairman had campaigned hard to bring African-American voters into his camp.
Deeds’ late surge in the campaign was sparked late last month when The Washington Post endorsed him over the two other candidates. The Post wrote that Deeds “may not be the obvious choice in the June 9 primary, but he's the right one.”
Deeds and his campaign hyped that endorsement relentlessly in television ads and in direct mail, a push that also helped him raise thousands of crucial dollars down the stretch.
ARLINGTON, Virginia (CNN) - Longtime Clinton ally and former Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe has conceded to state senator Creigh Deeds in the party's gubernatorial primary, calling on his supporters to back Deeds in his general election battle against Republican Bob McDonnell.
ARLINGTON, Virginia (CNN) – Current Virginia Democratic governor and Democratic National Committee chairman Tim Kaine has called Creigh Deeds to congratulate him on his win in tonight's gubernatorial primary.
Deeds defeated Terry McAuliffe and Brian Moran by a wide margin.
“Today, we were fortunate to have had three excellent candidates who waged hard-fought campaigns. Creigh Deeds, Terry McAuliffe, and Brian Moran each made phenomenal efforts in their quest to represent the people of the Commonwealth of Virginia. However, in this race, as in every election, only one person can claim victory. Tonight is Creigh Deeds’ night.
ARLINGTON, Virginia (CNN) - With four-fifths of precincts reporting, Creigh Deeds has roughly half the vote in Virginia's Democratic gubernatorial primary, with Terry McAuliffe trailing with just over 26 percent, and Brian Moran with 24 percent, according the latest results from the Virginia Board of Elections.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - While Democrats are hoping the Senate vote on Judge Sonia Sotomayor's nomination to the Supreme Court takes place by the congressional summer recess, Republican Sen. John Thune told CNN Radio Tuesday he thinks the vote might not occur until September.
"I don't think there is any rush, only because the new court doesn't open until October," the South Dakota Republican said in an interview with Mark Preston and Lisa Desjardins that was streamed live on CNN.com.
Thune, who said has not yet decided if he will support or oppose Sotomayor, has launched a new Web site: to serve as a conservative clearing house to discuss the nomination.
"What we simply did is created a forum for people from my state to interact with others and to inform them about some of the things that she has said in the past and positions she has taken and what not," Thune said. "We are trying to make it a very open process where people have an opportunity to sort of contribute their input and hear things that she has said herself."
WASHINGTON (CNN) - After months of sometimes acrimonious intra-party feuding, polls opened at 6 a.m. in Virginia on Tuesday amidst stormy weather for the commonwealth's first contested Democratic primary election for governor in decades.
On the ballot today: Former Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe, former state House delegate Brian Moran and state Sen. Creigh Deeds. The winner will face Republican Bob McDonnell in the general election, an off-year race that is seen by many as a proving ground for both the Barack Obama administration and a beleaguered Republican party.
Despite the unprecedented amount of money spent on the race by all three campaigns, turnout is expected to be nowhere near the size of last year's Democratic primary between Obama and Hillary Clinton, which saw nearly a million voters.
Instead, the campaigns believe the turnout will more closely resemble that of the 2006 Senate primary contest between Jim Webb and Harris Miller, in which only 155,000 of the party's most loyal voters showed up to vote. Because polling such a tiny slice of the electorate remains difficult, not even the savviest of Virginia political operatives have been able to predict a winner.