Following receipt of a concession statement from his GOP rival this morning, Democratic Rep. Gerry Connolly called a press conference at his Annandale regional office today to face reporters for the first time since the election to a second term in the 11th Congressional District a week ago.
Rebuffing questions about the consequences of his close victory (by less than 1,000 votes), Connolly retorted, “This outcome should be viewed from the standpoint of strength, not weakness.” Referring to the national tide of Republican victories last week, he added, “While trees were falling all over the woods, this one didn’t.”
Connolly confirmed reports that he’d entered a hospital upon completion of last week’s voting, saying it was because his doctor had recommended a check up for a long time, but that Connolly delayed it until after the election. He said that a minor blockage in an artery was discovered and “cleared up,” and that he left the hospital with a clean bill of health.
Asked if the close vote will cause him to rethink some of his stands, Connolly said that he bucked the tide of Republican victories because of “my record and my votes,” and by “not ignoring my electorate.” He added, “I am not afraid of casting unpopular votes and have defended them. I do not run away from my record.”
He said that claims the redrawing of the boundaries of the 11th District could be his undoing in the next election, after U.S. Census results are used by state legislators in “redistricting.” He said that he rejects the notion that the closeness of last week’s election results belies weakness, noting that he overcame the national trend and that, within two years, there will be massive changes in the demographics of his district.
He added that growing awareness by the electorate of the “extremist” views of his opponent, Keith Fimian, was “just one factor” in his victory. Referring to Fimian’s controversial statement on “packing heat” in the wake of the Virginia Tech killings, he said it was not “decisive.” “Who knows,” he said. “Maybe it was the fact we knocked on six extra doors every Sunday.”
Connolly said he will take his doctor’s advise to “get some rest” after the election. He will be sworn in to his second two-year term in January.
In his concession statement issued this morning, Fimian, having lost for a second time to Connolly, “After much discussion with friends and supporters, I have decided not to pursue a recount and not to further investigate possible discrepancies in the election results. Therefore I congratulate Rep. Connolly on his victory and send him good wishes as he moves forward to do the people’s business. For me, today is the end of this campaign.”