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Photo Gallery: Democratic Party of Virginia State Convention 2012

More than 2,000 Democrats from across Virginia were in attendance for the gathering at George Mason University on Saturday.

Virginia Democrats gathered in the city of Fairfax on Saturday for the . The main event, more than five hours long at George Mason University, was attended by a crowd of more than 2,000 activists, volunteers, elected officials and party members from across the commonwealth.

"This is an historic election year for Virginia," said Melissa Bondi, a Democratic activist from Arlington. "We've seen more and more threats against the fundamental civil rights of gays, women and minorities."

She added: "It's easy to get fired up for the Democratic ticket."

That's both part of the message and part of the reaction organizers sought for Saturday.

Given President Barack Obama's success here in 2008 — he was the first Democratic presidential candidate to carry Virginia in decades — and Republican gains in state and local elections since, the Old Dominion has emerged as a key battleground state. That theme worked it's way into many speeches, interviews and conversations.

"It's the classic purple state," said Democratic state Del. Bob Brink, whose district includes parts of Arlington and Fairfax counties. "It can go either way depending on the quality of the candidates and the enthusiasm of the supporters."

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