WASHINGTON – Every vote will be counted twice in not one, but two races in Virginia that could shape statewide politics.
Democrat Jennifer Boysko is set to ask for a recount this week in her race for the 86th District House of Delegates seat against Republican Del. Tom Rust.
“We want to make sure, quite frankly, that every vote that was cast is recorded correctly, and we leave no questions about the outcome of that race,” Cesar del Aguila says.
Del Aguila, chairman of the Fairfax County Democratic Committee, calls the race “painfully close,” and expects Boysko to file the petition for a state-funded recount early in the week.
Rust has claimed victory, and says in a statement that he is honored to return to Richmond. If the recount does not change the outcome, he will take over as the chairman of the House Transportation Committee.
If the recount does change the outcome, Democrats would likely break the GOP’s veto-proof majority of two-thirds of the seats in the House during this year’s General Assembly session.
Based on the results certified by the state Board of Elections last week, Democrats won 33 seats while Republicans won 67. One of those Democrats, Del. Onzlee Ware, D-11th, plans to resign to take care of his ailing mother, but the special election to be held Jan. 7 is expected to be won by a Democrat.
The Senate is split 20-20 for now, but there will be special elections to replace Lt. Gov.-elect Ralph Northam and whichever senator wins the attorney general’s race.
In that race, Republican Mark Obenshain has set the wheels in motion for a state-funded recount that is expected to take a few weeks. The state Board of Elections certified Democrat Mark Herring as the winner by 165 votes.
Both candidates have established transition teams.
While Obenshain’s seat is reliably Republican, Herring’s seat in Loudoun and Fairfax counties is more of a toss-up. The area tends to lean Democratic, but a special election, which usually features lower turnout, could provide an opportunity for Republicans.
That special election cannot be announced until the winner resigns from the Senate, which is not likely to happen before the results are final.
If the seats remain with the same parties, Democrats would have control of the Senate once the new senators are sworn in because of Northam’s tie-breaking vote.
Del Aguila says getting an accurate result in every race from the general election is one thing both parties agree on.
“We’re all looking for the same thing, quite frankly – we want to make sure that all the votes that were cast are counted, and let that be the outcome,” he says.
He adds that there is no thought of bringing the conduct of the House election before the General Assembly, as has been discussed in the attorney general’s race. A contest in a House of Delegates race works similarly to a contest in a statewide race, but would be decided by only the House rather than a joint session.
“I know for a fact we will accept the outcome of those recounts,” del Aguila says.
He says he’s not aware of any other candidates for delegate who are planning to seek a recount.
The race between Del. David Ramadan, R-Loudoun, and Democrat John Bell is one of the races within the range for a potential recount paid for by the losing candidate, with Ramadan winning another term by fewer than 200 votes.