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Republicans may now be the legislative minority, but they'll still wield power

Republicans may have lost the majority in the House of Delegates, but just barely. They have 49 out of 100 seats, which means they are only one seat away from a power-sharing agreement.

"All it takes is one or two Democrats to be sick one day and you've got a tie," notes former Democratic House Leader David Toscano. "So there's a lot of mischief that 49 can create. There's also a lot of policy jockeying that 49 can be useful for."

 Medicaid expansion, for example, was accomplished by Democrats when they had a 49 seat minority in the House.

Former Republican Governor Jim Gilmore says he's not expecting much mischief based on the narrow margin.

"The leadership is not going to allow things to come to a vote on a 51-49 vote, where some Democrat could break and change the chemistry around," Gilmore predicts. "My experience is that the Democrats have much more discipline than Republicans. Much more. They almost never break." 

The Republican minority in the Senate is just as strong, only one seat away from a tie vote. Gilmore says that's a sign to Democrats that they should not interpret the election results as an invitation to be too radical in their approach.

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

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria.