Photo credit: Skip Plitt via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0

In Dramatic Twist, Virginia GOP Saves House Majority by Winning Lot Drawing


Good or bad, Virginia never fails to excite.

As one of only two states to have elections every year, and a purple state, Virginia is often a battleground and proxy war for national politics. In 2005, a Democratic victory in the governor’s race foretold a Democratic takeover of Congress the following year, and the reverse happened when Republicans won in 2009.

The 2017 election, for better or for worse, shook the political landscape when record Republican turnout was swamped by record Democratic turnout as Democrats took all three statewide offices and 15 seats in the House of Delegates, leaving Republicans clinging to a 51-49 majority in the lower chamber. Four recounts were called in races where the margin of victory was under 1,000 votes.

Three of those seats were held by Republicans, and Democrats tried desperately to take them in a recount and force the House to go 50-50 and require a power-sharing agreement. In the 94th District, the original margin was 10 votes, and a recount resulted in a dead tie between Republican David Yancey and Democrat Shelley Simonds. Under state law, the tie meant the race was decided by lot.

Yesterday, the drawing was held and Yancey was given the victory, preserving the Republicans’ delicate 51-49 majority.

Democrats are surely not finished yet, as the loser of the random drawing can request a second recount, and party leaders seem likely to file a lawsuit as well. But it just goes to show that there is never a dull moment in Virginia politics.

Photo credit: Skip Plitt via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0

Thomas Valentine

Thomas Valentine is a columnist for

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