Some drama went down in Virginia on Tuesday when the state’s House of Delegates saw the balance of power shift out of Republican hands. This was in the cards, perhaps, after a surprising November win by progressive Democrat Chris Hurst against NRA-backed incumbent Joseph Yost, but the trend has further developed with stunning results. Following a Tuesday recount between two other candidates, the GOP no longer holds the majority after 94th district recount results led Democrat Shelly Simonds to prevail over Republican incumbent David Yancey.
Even more stunning than the defeat is how Simonds won 11,608 votes while Yancey pulled up right behind her with 11,607. In effect, one vote has caused Democrats to pick up a 50th seat, which means that the House of Delegates is split right down the middle. The Washington Post breaks the recount down:
Of the 23,866 votes cast in the Newport News district on Election Day, Yancey held a tenuous lead of just 10 votes going into Tuesday’s recount.
But five hours and much nailbiting later, after painstaking counting overseen by local elections officials and the clerk of court, Yancey’s lead narrowed before it gradually disappeared and then reversed, allowing Simonds to beat him by one vote.
Who says that voter turnout can’t win elections?
The fallout from a neatly split House of Delegates will, however, be far from a clean affair. There will be heated negotiations to determine who will be House speaker, and committee chair decisions will see a similar process. Many, many votes will likely split down party lines, and that will stall countless bills from proceeding to the state Senate. Not only that, but the state Senate is pretty close to being split as well, since Republicans only hold a 21-19 edge (and when the Senate does tie, the Democratic lieutenant governor serves as tie breaker). Plus the state has a Democratic governor with a veto pen.
In other words, politics will soon be uglier than usual in Virginia. Get ready.