‘It didn’t have to end with a bowl’: Democrat beats GOP incumbent to win seat she lost in 2017 after tie-breaking pick

A Virginia Democrat who lost her 2017 race for the state’s House of Delegates after another candidate’s name was picked out of a bowl in a tie-breaker handily ousted her Republican foe Tuesday.

Shelly Simonds defeated Republican incumbent Del. David Yancey, allowing her to claim the seat she lost two years ago after a state law dating back to 1705 was used to settle the 11,608-vote tie between the two candidates. Simonds won the rematch with 11,556 votes to Yancey’s 8,069 votes, according to results from the state Department of Elections.

Following her win, an ecstatic Simonds underscored how consequential each vote was in this year’s election.

“I think the most important thing here is that every vote counts, and I hope everyone in Newport News writes that on their heart … and remembers that for 2020,” she said to a crowd of supporters.

Asked by a reporter on Tuesday about the 2017 process in which the chairman of the state’s board of elections drew a film canister with Yancey’s name out of a blue and white ceramic bowl, Simonds said: “I’m just so glad that the voters of Newport News helped us rewrite the ending of our story. It didn’t have to end with a bowl.”

“The really exciting think about living in a democratic society is we can make it right. We can make a change. But it takes people coming out to vote. It takes people grabbing their neighbor and dragging them to the polls,” she said.

‘A really sweet victory’

During an interview Thursday with CNN’s John Berman on “New Day,” Simonds said her win is “a really sweet victory” that’s owed to the scores of voters who “came out to make it right this time around.”

“(The win) really drew attention to the idea that you never know when your one vote could be that one vote that decides an election. That keeps dangerous weapons out of our community. That gives teachers a pay raise,” she said. “And I think voters heard that this time around. And that message is getting through.”

Simonds’ win was one of many for her party in Virginia on Tuesday. Democrats won majorities in Virginia’s House and Senate, giving the party full control of the state’s government for the first time in more than two decades.

The victories put the legislature and Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam in a position to pursue a progressive agenda, including gun control measures — which majority Republicans had blocked — and a higher minimum wage. The party will also control the redistricting process after the 2020 census, drawing the new maps for congressional and state legislative districts.

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