"West Virginia is on the move and you better believe it!" said US Senator Robert C Byrd shortly after winning a record 9th term in the Senate. Senator Byrd defeated Morgantown businessman John Raese in Tuesday's election. Senator Byrd easily won the seat, taking 65% of the vote.
In his acceptance speech Tuesday night, Byrd promised to never stop working for the people and state that mean so much to him. "I'm so honored that I never want to stop serving West Virginia," said Senator Byrd. "Your smile will always warm my days and light my nights."
Here are some pictures submitted by Byrd's campaign. [ Click to enlarge ]
Byrd easily overcame a challenge that proved costly to Raese, who spent roughly 2.2 million dollars of his own money on the race. Mountain Party candidate Jesse Johnson also challenged Byrd, but didn't run a visible campaign.
Although Byrd has drawn criticism from Republicans nationally, particularly for his vocal opposition to the Iraq war, the G-O-P never took the kind of interest in the race that some predicted. In addition to criticizing Byrd's position on the war, Raese also suggested that the 88-year-old Democrat is not physically able to serve out another six-year term.
Although he often walks with the aid of two canes, Byrd campaigned vigorously. And Tuesday night he promised that the best is still to come. "Let me say to all of you, you ain't seen nothing yet!" said Senator Byrd.
The Senator also took time Tuesday to remember his late wife Erma, who stood by him throughout years of campaigning in the hills and mountains of West Virginia. Erma Byrd died in March after a long battle with Alzheimer's disease. He says that Erma is celebrating his win in heaven. "We will celebrate this sweet victory in our dreams, " said Byrd.
Here's a look at exit poll highlights the Senate race:
AGE FACTOR: Most people aren't concerned about Byrd's age interfering with his job performance, and they overwhelmingly voted to re-elect him. Voters 65 and older were far more likely to vote for Byrd.
UNIVERSAL APPEAL: The appeal of eight-term, 88-year-old Sen. Robert C. Byrd crossed most age, gender, income, religious and geographic lines. But the Democrat who has repeatedly stood up to President Bush over the war in Iraq found some of his strongest support among voters who disapprove of both the war and the way Bush is doing his job.
RAESE BASE: Wealthy Republican industrialist John Raese found strong support among voters who label themselves conservative and among those who approve of both the war in Iraq and the way President Bush is doing his job.
PARTY LINE: While Democrats decidedly followed the party line, Republicans were far more willing to cross over and vote for Byrd. Byrd also captured a majority of voters who consider themselves independent.