Posted on January 27, 2014 at 8:14 PM
Monday, Jan 27 at 10:07 PM
NORFOLK -- A Circuit Court judge has certified the results of a day-long recount in Virginia's 6th State Senate race, and Democrat Lynwood Lewis has won.
Lewis began the day with a 9-vote margin over Republican Wayne Coleman. But after court and elections officials recounted the more than 20,000 votes cast, Lewis picked up two votes, winning by eleven.
The count was Lewis--10,203, Coleman--10,192.
Coleman released a statement Monday night congratulating Lewis and thanking his supporters.
"While I wish the results had turned out differently, I'm extremely grateful for all of the support and encouragement we've received throughout the district," Coleman said. "We came within a few votes of pulling off one of the biggest upsets in Virginia history after being written off by most observers."
Coleman still has an option under state law of appealing directly to the General Assembly, but several legislators have told 13News Now they doubt that is something that Speaker of the House Bill Howell would be enthusiastic about tackling.
A Lewis win means that Democrats will take control of the evenly divided 20-20 State Senate, by virtue of Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam having the tie-breaking vote.
"If they have that tie-breaking vote in the Senate and can reorganize the Senate, Democrats get Democratic chairs of committees most likely, Democratic majorities on committees," said ODU political science professor Jesse Richman. "This allows Democrats in the Senate to use committees to gate-keep, to block policies that otherwise would reach the floor of the Senate."
In a statement, Governor Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat, said: "“I’d like to congratulate Lynwood Lewis for his victory in Virginia’s 6th Senate District election and commend Wayne Coleman for participating in this process with professionalism and respect. I am glad that the process of filling each vacant seat in the General Assembly is now complete and I look forward to working with Lynwood and members of both parties in the General Assembly to tackle the challenges facing Virginia’s economy and communities.”
Other fellow Democrats also issued statements.
"Congratulations to Lynwood Lewis on his election as the next Senator from the Sixth Senate District of Virginia. I was very pleased to hear that Senator-elect Lewis’ victory was upheld today during the recount, and I want to also thank Wayne Coleman for running in this special election. It is also important to take a moment and recognize all the election officials and volunteers that participated in this process— it is critical to our democracy that all votes are properly counted, and we owe our election officials and volunteers a debt of gratitude for the time they spend overseeing our elections. I look forward to the Sixth District being represented by Senator-elect Lewis and, again, I congratulate him and am looking forward to his joining the Senate," said Northam.
"Congratulations to Senator-elect Lynwood Lewis," said Democratic Party of Virginia Chairperson Charniele Herring. "These last few months have been a whirlwind. Since November we've swept three statewide races and now regained control of the Virginia Senate. Virginia Democrats should be proud of their hard work and unrelenting dedication to the Commonwealth. We look forward to Senator-elect Lewis serving in Virginia's Senate and thank him for his service while a member of the Virginia House of Delegates."
"Lynwood Lewis brings a wealth of experience to the Senate. The people of the 6th Senate District will continue to be well served. We look forward to having Lynwood sworn in and taking his seat soon.," said Fairfax State Senator Dick Saslaw.
"Senator-Elect Lewis will be a welcome addition to our Caucus and will be an able successor to Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam. This close election is yet another reminder that every vote counts and we'll continue to work hard to ensure every Virginian's right to vote," said Henrico County State Senator Donald McEachin.
"I want to congratulate my colleague Lynwood Lewis for officially winning the 6th District Senate race. Having worked with Lynwood for several years in the House, I am confident that he will continue to work hard for the people of his district and the Commonwealth. I look forward to working with Senator-elect Lewis to ensure that we keep the 100th House District in Democratic control." said Democratic House Leaders David Toscano.
Lewis' election will create the need or yet another special election for his old House of Delegates seat in Norfolk and Virginia's Eastern Shore. A spokesperson for McAuliffe said the governor would make a decision on when to set a special election, "at the appropriate time."