RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — In just a few days, the State Board of Elections will declare a winner in the 94th House District. That’s the Newport News race that ended in a tie after a recount and a single ballot was challenged.
The Board will meet in Richmond on Dec. 27 at 11 a.m. — exactly 50 days after the election. The meeting is open to the public.
They will draw the name of one candidate at random to break the tie. The Democrat is Shelly Simonds. The Republican is incumbent David Yancey.
Earlier in the week, it appeared Simonds had won the race by one vote, but Republicans asked the recount court to consider a previously uncounted ballot. It had bubbles for both candidates filled in, but the one for Simonds had a slash through it.
After the review, the recount court awarded the vote to Yancey, tying up the race.
But the twists and turns don’t necessarily end once the Board draws a name Wednesday morning.
After “drawing lots,” the loser may request an additional recount.
That’s something Republican Party of Virginia chairman John Whitbeck expects will happen.
“I feel for both of them, especially during the Christmas season. Instead of focusing on their families and enjoying their holidays, they’re having to stress out about this. I have a lot of sympathy for both of them and I wish them both the best of luck,” he said.
All eyes will be on that draw not only to determine who wins the seat; the balance of the 100-member House of Delegates likely rests on this race, too.
“We could go into the General Assembly session in January with a 50-49 Republican majority because this isn’t decided yet,” said Whitbeck.
But House Democrats say Simonds should have been certified the winner after the recount in that race. Democrats say they are assessing all legal options, but haven’t gone into detail about whether they will try to stop Wednesday’s draw from happening.
Along with a potential recount in HD-94, there is still another hurdle to finalizing the House. Democrats are still fighting for a new election in HD-28.
That’s the race in the Fredericksburg area where it appeared more than 100 voters were assigned to the wrong district. The margin between apparent winner Republican Bob Thomas and Democrat Joshua Cole amounted to 73 in a recount Thursday.
“We will continue to fight both for Joshua and for Delegate-elect Shelly Simonds, the rightful winner in HD-94,” said House Democratic Leader David J. Toscano and Caucus Chair Charniele Herring.
The first day of the General Assembly session is Jan. 10.
If the chamber is tied 50-50, both parties will have to come up with an agreement on how they will share power.
“We’ve down power sharing before, about 20 years ago,” said political analyst Richard Meagher. “So they’ll look back at that and use it as a model, but it’s only a model. It’s not a rule. It’s not a law. They can do whatever they want.”
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