In Virginia, a 11,608-to-11,607 lesson in the power of a single vote


Virginia Republicans appear to have lost control of the House of Delegates in an election decided by a single vote in a nail-biting recount. 

The Democratic wave that rose on Election Day in Virginia last month delivered a final crash on the sand Tuesday when a Democratic challenger defeated a Republican incumbent by a single vote, leaving the Virginia House of Delegates evenly split between the two parties. 

The victory by Shelly Simonds, a school board member in Newport News, was a civics lesson in every-vote-counts as she won 11,608 to 11,607 in a recount conducted by local election officials. 

Simonds’ win means a 50-50 split in the State House, where Republicans had clung to a one-seat majority after losing 15 seats last month in a night of Democratic victories up and down the ballot, which were widely seen as a rebuke to President Donald Trump. Republicans have controlled the House for 17 years. 

“I just can’t believe it, but it sounds like it’s pretty solid,” an excited Simonds, speaking from a bar with the sounds of celebration in the background, told reporters on a conference call. She said she was in awe of the recount process, an example of what she called good government, in which there were no arguments between Democrats and Republican observers. “It was a beautiful thing to see democracy in action.” 

The recount was a nail-biting exercise avidly followed on Twitter over five hours that began with the Republican incumbent, David Yancy, ahead by 10 votes. 

Although results are not official until certified by a three-judge panel on Wednesday, state Democrats declared victory, and Republican leaders in the House congratulated Simonds. “There were no challenged ballots so nothing for the court to review,” leaders of the Democratic caucus said in a statement. 

“Fifty-fifty is an unprecedented event in the 400-year history of the House of Delegates,” said David J. Toscano, the House Democratic leader. 

Simonds is not the first member of the Virginia House to pull off an improbably close victory. 

In 1991, a former Virginia delegate named Jim Scott won a race by one vote and was nicknamed “Landslide Jim.” On Tuesday, Simonds embraced the same name. “You can call me Landslide Shelly as long as you call me delegate,” she said.


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Politics

Florida bill increases women’s non-hospital options for labor, delivery
Florida bill increases women’s non-hospital options for labor, delivery

Women with low-risk pregnancies would not have to deliver at hospitals to get epidurals or to have cesarean sections, under legislation overwhelmingly approved by a House panel Tuesday despite safety concerns raised by Florida hospitals. Bill sponsor MaryLynn Magar, R-Tequesta, touted the proposal (HB 1099) as a potential way to help lower health-care...
Bill hikes pension contributions for state agencies, local governments
Bill hikes pension contributions for state agencies, local governments

Florida counties would have to contribute an additional $66 million to the state pension fund in the new budget year, according to legislation that has started moving in the Senate. As a result of a decrease in the assumed rate of investment return on the $160 billion pension fund, counties, school boards, state agencies, universities, state colleges...
After Irma: Lawmakers to weigh blocking rebuilding in high-risk areas
After Irma: Lawmakers to weigh blocking rebuilding in high-risk areas

Requiring nursing homes to have adequate backup power, blocking storm-damaged properties from being rebuilt in “high-risk” areas, and looking into changes in highway traffic flow during evacuations are among hurricane proposals that moved forward Tuesday in a Florida House select committee. The House Select Committee on Hurricane Response...
Trump physical results: 6 things to know
Trump physical results: 6 things to know

President Donald Trump is in excellent health and likely to finish his term in office without any medical issues, a presidential doctor said Tuesday at a news conference, four days after the president underwent a physical exam. “The president's overall health is excellent," White House physician Dr. Ronny Jackson said Tuesday. Here are six...
Son of late Florida justice enters race for state Attorney General
Son of late Florida justice enters race for state Attorney General

State Rep. Sean Shaw, a Tampa Democrat and the son of the first black chief justice of the Florida Supreme Court, entered the campaign for attorney general Tuesday and took issue with the performance of outgoing Attorney General Pam Bondi. Shaw announced his candidacy outside the Florida Supreme Court, where his father, the late Leander Shaw Jr., was...
More Stories