Tuesday’s special election in Virginia to fill a state Senate seat produced another cliffhanger for the commonwealth, with the two candidates just 22 votes apart. The stakes are high since the vote will determine whether Virginia’s new Democratic governor, Terry McAuliffe, will have a Republican-led state legislature. The seat was vacated by the new lieutenant governor, Democrat Ralph Northam, and if Democrats can hold it, the 40-member Senate will be split 20-20 between Republicans and Democrats – and Mr. Northam will serve as the tie-breaking vote. Democratic state Del. Lynwood Lewis Jr. led Republican B. Wayne Coleman by 0.1% of the vote with all precincts reporting, a margin close enough for Mr. Coleman to request a recount after the vote is certified by the State Board of Elections.
Mr. Lewis, in his sixth term as a state delegate, declared victory Tuesday night, thanking his voters for electing “someone who puts results ahead of politics.” Mr. Coleman, a Norfolk businessman, has not conceded.
Democrats swept statewide elections last year, a sign that Virginia is no longer a Republican stronghold. For the first time since 1969, Democrats hold all five statewide offices: both U.S. Senate seats, governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general.
Another special election will be held Jan. 21 to fill the seat of Mark Herring, a state senator who was elected attorney general in the state’s last nail-biting election.