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banner Friday, 7 January, 2000, 17:22 GMT
Virginia

Virginia was the focus of national attention in November 1999 when Republicans took control of the General Assembly after more than a century of Democratic rule.

Key facts
Population: 6,791,345 (ranked 12 among states)
Governor: James S. Gilmore III (R)
Electoral College votes: 13
They secured a working majority of 52 seats in the 100 member House of Delegates. Governor Gilmore called the result a "victory for conservatism" and declared that "liberalism is a washed-up relic of the past".

In presidential elections, conservatism has long been the dominant ideology in Virginia, although in 1996 it almost backed Democrat Bill Clinton.

1998 Congress
House of Representatives: 6 Democrats, 5 Republicans
Senate: 1 Democrat, 1 Republican
Virginia is where the English colonists founded Jamestown in 1607 and where, in the 1770s, the American Revolution began and ended. It was home to both George Washington and Thomas Jefferson and a high proportion of the Republic's early Presidents.

The state built its wealth and status on enormous plantations and slavery. Despite the damage that was inflicted on the aristocratic class by the Civil War, low-wage agriculture remained the basis of Virginia's economy and segregation the basis of Virginia's society for many years.

Voting record
1996: Dole 47%, Clinton 45%
1992: Bush 45%, Clinton 41%, Perot 14%
1988: Bush 60%, Dukakis 39%
But things have changed. In 1989 black Democrat Douglas Wilder was elected governor; Nasa and the military have brought jobs, investment and a thriving high-tech private sector; and Richmond is now a strong financial and manufacturing centre.

There still remains a strong divide between the parts of the state which are sprawling suburbs of Washington DC and the federal government and the more southern and traditional inland areas of the state.

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Links to more States stories are at the foot of the page.


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