Former Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe Tuesday narrowly won the Virginia governorship, extending his party's win streak in the Old Dominion.
NBC News called the race after a night of neck-and-neck results kept supporters of McAuliffe and Republican rival Ken Cuccinnelli on-edge. Though poll numbers suggested McAuliffe isn't particularly popular among the Virginia electorate, he proved more appealing than Cuccinnelli, the state attorney general and a hardcore social conservative.
McAuliffe's victory breaks Virginia's streak of electing a governor from the party not occupying the White House, going back to 1977.
It's a shocking turn for Virginia Republicans. While the GOP still controls the legislature, the state's two U.S. senators already are Democrats. McAuliffe succeeds Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell, once seen as presidential candidate material, but whose political fortunes have plummeted amid an ethics scandal.
And President Barack Obama won Virginia in 2008 and 2012. The state hadn't previously backed a Democrat for president since 1964.
Both Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton made appearances for McAuliffe in the final weeks, and so did Barack Obama over the weekend. McAuliffe is quite close to the Clintons. He was a frequent White House visitor and golf partner of then-President Clinton. He's been a massive fundraiser for the political pair, and even provided them a loan for their first post-White House home, in Westchester County, N.Y.
Cuccinnelli was hoping for a late-game rally that would prove that a tea party-backed conservative could win the governorship of a swing-voting state. He brought big-name supporters to the state, too, including Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal - all potential presidential contenders.