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Recount Flips House Race, Leading To 50-50 Split In House Of Delegates

(AP Photo/Ben Finley)

The old saying "every vote counts" may never have been more true than in Newport News Tuesday, as a recount there appears to have flipped the outcome and moved the House of Delegates to a 50-50 split.

Republican Delegate David Yancey started the day with a ten vote lead.   As each precinct was recounted, though, that lead dwindled away.  The final result: A single-vote victory for Democratic challenger Shelly Simonds.  That’s one vote out of more than 23,000 cast on Election Day.

“I think landslide Shelley sounds great!” Simonds joked with a reporter after the results were announced. “You can call me anything, just call me Delegate.” 

A recount court still has to certify the results Wednesday. If they stand, the House of Delegates will be evenly split between Republicans and Democrats.  That would require some sort of power sharing agreement between the parties, a situation not seen in Virginia since the 1990's.

“This is really going to be a test for both parties’ ability to work the way voters want parties and politicians to work, and that is across lines and compromising,” said Quentin Kidd, political science professor at Christopher Newport University. 

In a statement, House Democratic leaders David Toscano and Charniele Herring congratulated Simonds and hinted at the General Assembly session that begins next month. "We are one vote closer to expanding Medicaid and extending access to affordable health care to nearly 400,000 people," they wrote. "Let’s get this done.”

Later during a press call Herring added that she does see a chance for bipartisanship.

“I’m optimistic that we can actually be a model for the nation,” said Herring. 

Republican leaders in the House conceded the seat to Simonds, pending confirmation by the court. In a written statement, Kirk Cox, Todd Gilbert, Tim Hugo and Nick Rush wrote they are "ready to establish a bipartisan framework under which the House can operate efficiently and effectively over the next two years."

There are two more recounts in other House races this week, though the margins in those races were not nearly as small.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.


Mallory Noe-Payne is a Radio IQ reporter based in Richmond.
David Seidel is Radio IQ's News Director.