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One campaign ends, another begins

There's a lot riding on tonight's results — especially for lieutenant governor. Peace, a lobbyist for McGuireWoods Consulting, dreams of a domino scenario: State Sen. Bill Bolling wins and resigns his senate seat. Delegate Ryan McDougle of Mechanicsville fills that spot after a special election. Then Peace, 29, wins as delegate, his first elected public office.

But so far tonight, Republicans haven't been getting what they want. The race for governor's been called, and Bolling is neck and neck with Sen. Leslie Byrne.

Peace's wife, Ashley, is atwitter as she watches the results on a television screen in the McGuireWoods private party, a floor below the stage where Jerry Kilgore will soon concede at the Greater Richmond Convention Center. Most everyone's gone upstairs to hear him. Convention Center staffers roll in carts to take away the pretzel bowls and cubes of cheese.

Whatever happens, Ashley Peace says, "Chris Peace has run the best unofficial campaign for an office that doesn't exist."

Upstairs, Kilgore's behind the curtain, arms crossed, shifting weight back and forth. Sen. George Allen and his wife, Susan, have taken the stage. The Peaces, who lingered downstairs, join the crowd, which goes crazy for the Allens. An orange banner hanging behind them reads "Honest Reform Starts Now."

Everyone knows Kaine is celebrating next door at the Marriott, with Warner & Co. But Sen. Allen offers some consolation: "It looks like the next lieutenant governor is going to be fireball Bill Bolling!" he shouts.

Peace, in the crowd, knows his campaign has just begun. — Jason Roop

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