Virginia Democrats’ hopes of maintaining their party’s hold on the Commonwealth’s upper house were very much in doubt late Tuesday, hinging on a razor-thin count in a single Senate district. When the ballot-counting ended for the night, longtime Spotsylvania incumbent Sen. R. Edward Houck (D) was 86 votes behind Republican challenger Bryce E. Reeves. Absentee ballots have been counted, and an unknown number of provisional ballots will be counted Wednesday.
Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) early Wednesday morning declared victory on behalf of Reeves in the 17th district, which encompasses Fredericksburg and parts of five downstate counties. Craig Bieber, Houck’s campaign manager, said the race “remains too close to call” and noted “several significant discrepancies during Tuesday night’s tabulation that deserve further attention during the canvassing and certification process.”
Republicans need a net gain of three seats to seize outright control of the Senate; a two-seat gain would leave the GOP with a working majority on the Senate floor, with Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling able to break tie votes, but unable to dominate committees.