WASHINGTON -- As Republicans prepare to assert majority rule in the Virginia Senate following Tuesday's general elections, the one remaining unsettled contest may remain unresolved in the coming weeks, leaving the slim possibility that Democrats may still end up controlling the narrowly divided chamber.
According to unofficial results from Tuesday's vote, the Republican candidate in the 17th District race, Bryce Reeves, held a slight lead, up to 226 votes as of the most recent count on Wednesday afternoon. But that finish falls within the margin needed to call for a recount.While the Democratic incumbent, Sen. Edd Houck, hasn't said much on Wednesday, the apparently defeated candidate indicated the contest isn't over yet. According to the senator's Facebook page:
If Houck formally requests a recount, what would that entail? Patch details the process, which would start once the election results are certified and would involve petitioning circuit courts in Richmond and Spotsylvania County:
As I write, the outcome of yesterday's election is not complete with the proper legal procedures being implemented to ensure all votes are accurately counted to remove any doubt of the final result. What is not in doubt is my heartfelt appreciation for all of the support I have received from family, friends and colleagues. All of you have been fantastic! Stay tuned to get the final results.
The recount process could take a few weeks to play out.
Within five days of the recount petition, the chief judge of the circuit court will call a preliminary hearing where each party can inspect electronic voting machines used in the election and have access to pollbooks used during the election. The chief judge also can name the location for the recount.
In the meantime, Virginia Republicans are planning for a GOP majority to organize the Senate. As the Free Lance-Star reports, the GOP doesn't want a 20-20 split in the Senate -- which is the likely scenario assuming Houck doesn't return to the chamber -- to lead to a power-sharing arrangement with Democratic lawmakers like one in the 1990s.
"Make no mistake about it, there is a Republican majority in the state Senate and that majority fully intends to organize," Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling said at a Wednesday afternoon news conference, according to the Fredericksburg newspaper. In a 20-20 divided Senate, Bolling would cast tie-breaking votes. That would include votes on organizing the chamber under a Republican majority, including committees.
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