AP Political Writer
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Democrat Tim Kaine defeated Republican George Allen in their U.S. Senate race Tuesday, keeping the seat in Democratic hands and thwarting Allen's attempt to regain the seat he lost six years ago.
Allen, somber and reserved, conceded the close race shortly before 11 p.m., lamenting the loss after 19 months of campaigning. The race was called for Kaine shortly thereafter. Allen had anticipated a broad backlash against Democratic President Barack Obama to lift his campaign, but Republican Mitt Romney was locked in a tight race with Obama and provided no down-ticket coattails.
The two former governors were competing for the seat that retiring Democratic Sen. Jim Webb is vacating.
"We haven't succeeded, my friends, in winning this election," Allen told supporters, urging them to "hold your heads high."
After a bitter campaign that led the nation in campaign spending at more than $80 million, Allen said he called Kaine to congratulate him. "We still remain friends personally," he said.
As of Oct. 17, Allen had raised and spent about $12.5 million to Kaine's $17.4 million. But outside spending totals nearly $53 million, with Allen benefiting from about 60 percent of it.
Allen held the seat from 2001 to 2007, but lost it to Webb in an unfocused, gaffe-strewn re-election campaign.
Kaine, Obama's handpicked former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, claimed he's better suited to reach across the aisle in a gridlocked Congress than Allen, whom he depicted as a bare-knuckled partisan who once implored Republicans to knock Democrats' "soft teeth down their whiny throats."
Allen has attacked Kaine for supporting an 11th-hour compromise in August 2011 that included $1.2 trillion in deep, across-the-board spending cuts, half of it to defense, without a deficit-reduction agreement that has so far eluded Congress. Allen ignores the fact that House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia, Speaker John Boehner and even Mitt Romney's running mate, Paul Ryan, were among many Republicans who supported it.
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