Richmond, Va. (AP) - Voters cast their ballots Tuesday for a new Virginia governor in a closely watched race that has focused on promises of jobs and critiques of President Barack Obama's policies a year after he won the state.
Turnout in the race between Democrat R. Creigh Deeds and Republican Bob McDonnell was light to moderate across the state.
The elections of governors in Virginia and New Jersey are viewed by many as the first voter verdicts on Obama and on a Democratic Congress heading into the 2010 midterm elections.
In Virginia, Deeds had been trailing McDonnell in recent polls. Deeds, a moderate country lawyer and state senator, never energized the party's liberal activists despite campaigning twice with Obama.
McDonnell, a conservative and former state attorney general, downplayed his efforts as a legislator to curb abortion and won support with a pledge to create jobs.
They are running to succeed Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, who is barred by Virginia's constitution from running for re-election. Kaine directed $6 million in DNC money into Virginia for Deeds and other Democratic candidates.
One year ago, Obama became the first Democrat in 44 years to carry Virginia in a presidential race _ a political tsunami that swept three of Virginia's 11 U.S. House seats from the GOP and put both U.S. Senate seats in Democratic hands for the first time since 1970.
Republicans were in disarray after the loss, but took advantage of public unease over major Obama initiatives on health care, energy and stimulus spending legislation.
McDonnell, who defeated Deeds in the 2005 attorney general's race by only 360 votes, never trailed in the polls.
Deeds narrowed McDonnell's lead in September after The Washington Post disclosed a graduate thesis McDonnell wrote in 1989, at age 34, that disparaged women, gays and unmarried "cohabitators."
Virginians are also choosing a lieutenant governor and attorney general. All 100 seats in the House of Delegates are also up for election, with contested races for 69 seats.
Voters cast their ballots Tuesday for a new Virginia governor in a closely watched race that has focused on promises of jobs and critiques of President Barack Obama's policies a year after he won the state.