2005 Virginia gubernatorial election

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Virginia gubernatorial election, 2005

← 2001 November 8, 2005 2009 →
Turnout45.0% (of registered voters)[1]
  Gov. Tim Kaine (cropped).jpg Jerry Kilgore (2004).jpg
Nominee Tim Kaine Jerry Kilgore
Party Democratic Republican
Popular vote 1,025,942 912,327
Percentage 51.7% 46.0%

Virginia Governor Election Results by County, 2005.svg
Virginia gubernatorial election results map.
Blue denotes counties/districts won by Kaine.
Red denotes those won by Kilgore.

Kaine:      40–50%      50-60%      60-70%      70-80%      80-90%
Kilgore:      40–50%      50-60%      60-70%      70-80%

Governor before election

Mark Warner

Elected Governor

Tim Kaine

The Virginia gubernatorial election of 2005 was a race for the Governor of Virginia, United States, held on November 8, 2005, and won by Democrat Tim Kaine, who now serves as the junior senator for the state. Virginia is the only state in the United States to prohibit governors from serving successive terms, so the popular incumbent, Mark R. Warner, could not run for reelection.

Primary elections[edit]

Democratic Party[edit]

Republican Party[edit]

Republican primary results[2]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Jerry Kilgore 145,002 82.78
Republican George Fitch 30,168 17.22
Total votes 175,170 100.00


General election[edit]

The general election itself was expected to be close with Independent candidate Russ Potts as a possible spoiler candidate. Kaine remained behind in polls throughout most of the campaign, at one point 10 points behind Kilgore, but captured a slight lead in the final weeks of the campaign. Kaine led in some polls for the first time in October 2005, and held his lead into the final week before the election.[3]

Kaine closely associated himself with popular outgoing Democratic Governor Mark Warner during his campaign; he won his race by a slightly larger margin than Warner. He promised homeowner tax relief, centrist fiscal leadership, and strong support for education.[4] A number of factors, from the sagging poll numbers of President George W. Bush to a public disgust over the death penalty ads run by Kilgore, have also been cited as key to his decisive win.[5][6]

The election was the most expensive in Virginia history, with the candidates combined raising over $42 million [7]


Kilgore resigned as Attorney General in February 2005 to run for Governor (as is the convention in Virginia) and easily won the primary election against Warrenton Mayor George B. Fitch to become the Republican nominee. In the general election, he ran against Democratic nominee Tim Kaine, the Lieutenant Governor of Virginia, and State Senator Russ Potts, a pro-choice Republican who ran as an independent candidate. Early in the race, Kilgore showed solid leads of ten points or more in the polls, but Kaine steadily closed the gap and ultimately defeated Kilgore by a margin of 52% to 46%.

Kilgore's campaign was at times criticized for taking steps to avoid debates; Kilgore refused to debate Potts for the majority of the campaign, at times leaving Kaine and Potts to debate each other in his absence. He agreed to debate only with Kaine, and only if the footage could not be aired in campaign commercials. During this debate, he refused to answer whether or not he would make abortion a crime. This apparent public moderation of his previously open and hard-line stance on abortion troubled some of his conservative supporters.

He was further criticized for failing to limit his negative advertisements to 50% of his campaign's total publicity as Kaine proposed. One such advertisement featured a father whose son had been murdered by a man who was on Virginia's death row; the father expressed doubt that the sentence would be carried out if Kaine were elected and alleged that Kaine would not even have authorized the execution of Adolf Hitler, based on an interview with the Richmond Times-Dispatch.[8] The negative reaction to the mention of Hitler combined with Kaine's pledge to carry out the death penalty and explanation of his personal opposition as arising from his Catholic faith helped to neutralize what many observers thought would've been a potent issue for Kilgore.

In trying to explain how a solid Republican could lose a traditionally Republican state by such a large margin, political commentators cited numerous key factors. Kaine's campaign had many political advantages, including his association with the state's popular Democratic Governor Mark Warner and defense of Warner's 2004 budget priorities, his "response ads" to Kilgore's death penalty advertisements, which featured him speaking to voters about his religious convictions, his relentless in-person campaigning across the state, and his opposition to tax increases. Experienced attorney Lawrence Roberts served as Kaine's campaign chairman.[9] In contrast, Kilgore's campaign had many political disadvantages, including a backlash over the death penalty ads that Kilgore's campaign ran in the fall, the relatively low poll numbers of then-President George W. Bush at the time the election, and a bitter division between the moderate and conservative wings of the Republican party over tax and spending priorities.


Opinion Polls[edit]

Source Date Kaine (D) Kilgore (R) Potts (I)
Survey USA November 7, 2005 50% 45% 4%
Mason-Dixon[permanent dead link] November 4, 2005 45% 44% 4%
Rasmussen November 4, 2005 49% 46% 2%
Roanoke College November 2, 2005 44% 36% 5%
Washington Post October 30, 2005 47% 44% 4%
Rasmussen October 28, 2005 46% 44% 4%
Mason-Dixon October 25, 2005 42% 44% 5%
Rasmussen October 24, 2005 46% 48% 2%
Hotline October 18, 2005 40% 38% 5%
Survey USA October 17, 2005 47% 45% 4%
Rasmussen October 12, 2005 44% 46% 1%
Rasmussen September 28, 2005 45% 45% 5%
Survey USA September 19, 2005 43% 46% 4%
Mason-Dixon[permanent dead link] September 18, 2005 40% 41% 6%
Rasmussen September 16, 2005 40% 43% 5%
Survey USA August 9, 2005 43% 48% 3%
Rasmussen August 4, 2005 39% 45% 5%
Mason-Dixon July 24, 2005 38% 37% 9%
Rasmussen July 14, 2005 41% 47% 4%
Survey USA June 30, 2005 39% 49% 5%
Rasmussen June 16, 2005 40% 46% 2%
Survey USA May 17, 2005 40% 44% 5%


Majority results by county, with Kaine (Dem.) in blue and Kilgore (Rep.) in red.
Virginia gubernatorial election, 2005[10]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic Tim Kaine 1,025,942 51.72% -0.44%
Republican Jerry Kilgore 912,327 45.99% -1.04%
Independent Russ Potts 43,953 2.22%
None Write-Ins 1,556 0.08%
Majority 113,615 5.73% +0.60%
Turnout 1,983,778 44.96% -1.4%
Democratic hold Swing

While the previous Democratic Governor, Mark Warner, was credited with doing especially well for a Democrat in rural areas of the commonwealth, Kaine's win featured surprising triumphs in traditionally Republican areas such as Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, and the Northern Virginia suburbs of Prince William County and Loudoun County, as well as impressive showings in Democratic strongholds such as Richmond and Norfolk.[11]

Balance of power[edit]

Office Party Before Election Party After Election Result
Governorship Democrat Democrat Democratic-Hold
Lieut. Governorship Democrat Republican Republican pick-up
Attorney General Republican Republican Republican-Hold
Virginia House of Delegates Republican (61 Seats) Republican (57 seats) Republican-Hold

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Virginia Department of Elections (2016). "Registration/Turnout Statistics". The Commonwealth of Virginia. Retrieved July 25, 2016.
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-08-13. Retrieved 2013-05-30.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^ VA: Kaine 49% Kilgore 46%Rasmussen Reports, November 4, 2005
  4. ^ Brodnitz, Pete. "Why Tim Kaine Won". www.bsgco.com. Retrieved 3 June 2016.
  5. ^ "Death penalty demagoguery" Archived 2012-09-17 at Archive.today. (October 13, 2005). The Roanoke Times.
  6. ^ "RealClear Politics – 2005 Virginia Gubernatorial Election". Retrieved November 4, 2005.
  7. ^ "Virginia governor's race a costly one", (October 31, 2005) USA Today
  8. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2006-11-29. Retrieved 2006-11-30.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  9. ^ https://www.upi.com/Top_News/US/2016/07/25/Kaine-provides-Clinton-ticket-with-more-lobbying-fundraising-ties/5991469437503/
  10. ^ http://www.sbe.virginia.gov/Files/ElectionResults/2005/nov2005/html/[permanent dead link]
  11. ^ Shear, Michael D. (October 18, 2005). "Kaine Sounds Slow-Growth Note in Exurbs". Washington Post.

External links[edit]

Official campaign websites (Archived)