RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Senator Mark Warner of Virginia defeated Republican challenger Daniel Gade to reclaim his U.S. Senate seat for a third term and extend the Democratic Party’s dominance in statewide races over the last decade.

The race was called for Warner, a former Virginia governor who serves as vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, moments after polls closed at 7 p.m. The quick projection from the Associated Press and the early lead for Gade, which faded after absentee ballots across the commonwealth were counted after 11 p.m., drove the GOP candidate to question the validity of the AP’s projection.

Before eventually conceding Wednesday, Gade told 8News on Election Night, when unofficial results on the Virginia Department of Elections website showed him with a 150,000 vote lead before 11 p.m., that he had no plans to throw in the towel and said that with his early lead that he was waiting by the phone for Warner to call him to concede.

In a phone interview on Election Night, Gade explained that no matter the result of the race he would “continue to serve the American people” and stressed the importance of unity after results are made final. He echoed those remarks in a tweet on Wednesday.

“I will never stop fighting for our country and for the Constitution which sustains it, but this race is over,” Gade wrote. “I concede and call on all of my supporters to recognize state and federal results with peace and unity.”

Gade, a professor at American University and a retired Army lieutenant colonel who had his leg amputated after being wounded in Iraq, faced an array of challenges in the race against the Democratic senator.

Virginia has not elected a Republican in a statewide race since 2009 and the AP projected the state’s 13 electoral votes were won by Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden less than an hour after the polls closed. According to the nonpartisan Virginia Public Access Project, Warner’s campaign raised over $13 million, a significant difference between the nearly $4 million Gade took in during the race.  

Minutes after the Associated Press called the race, Warner shared a “Thank You, Virginia” tweet.

WATCH: A conversation with Sen. Mark Warner on COVID-19, a second stimulus package, health care and his race against Daniel Gade


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