RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Former state Finance Secretary Jody Wagner defeated Democraticcampaign strategist A. Michael Signer on Tuesday to become theDemocratic nominee for lieutenant governor.
Wagner will take on Republican Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, who isseeking a second term.
Wagner had 73 percent of the vote over Signer, who was makinghis first run for elected office, with 95 percent of precinctsreporting.
"I look forward to the next five months to compare BillBolling's past years of getting in the way and our seven years ofsuccess," Wagner said when reached by phone on her way to acelebration in her hometown of Virginia Beach.
Wagner stressed her close work dealing with the financial crisisunder the past two Democratic governors, as state treasurer underformer Gov. Mark Warner and then as finance secretary for Gov. TimKaine. She told WAVY.com, "I think it was my seven years ofexperience with governors Warner and Kaine - all we accomplishedfor Virginia. And I think in turn [the voters] said let's give hera look for lieutenant governor."
Despite the economic struggles, Virginia was twice named thebest-managed state. Three times it was named the best state inwhich to do business, and it was also named the best place to raisea child.
Wagner, 56, said her biggest challenge will be raising money tocompete with Bolling, who already has more than $1 million readyfor his campaign.
"We still have a long way to go," she said.
In a race that hadn't received a lot of attention, Wagner usedher 3-to-1 fundraising advantage to run television ads featuringlegislative leaders singing her praises while Signer relied mostlyon telephone calls and mailings.
Most state and local elected Democrats supported Wagner, whileSigner picked up endorsements from several unions.
Signer, 36, of Arlington, was a deputy counselor to Warner and asenior strategist for U.S. Rep. Tom Perriello, who upset six-termcongressman Virgil Goode Jr. last year.
If elected, Wagner said she would like to focus on creating jobsand education.
The job's only duties outlined in the Constitution are topreside over the 40-member Senate and to cast tie-breaking votes.Democrats currently outnumber Republicans 21-19 in the chamber.
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