Republicans had to take just two state senate seats on Election Day from Virginia Democrats to ensure a 20-20 split in that body, making Republican Lt. Governor Bill Bolling the tie-breaking vote. As party faithful left the election night party in Fairfax last night, it appeared the GOP had done just that.
According to this morning's tallies, Democrats have lost two key seats by a very close margin. In one of those races, for the 17th District in Central Virginia, current numbers show Republican Challenger Bryce Reeves beating State Senator Edd Houck by just 86 votes of 45,000 cast.
If that lead stands in a recount, it will give the GOP a working majority on the Senate floor, with the lieutenant governor as a potential deciding vote.
State Senator Dick Saslaw, who represents Fairfax and currently serves as senate majority leader for the Democrats in Richmond, wasn't expecting Houck to have such a tough time. "I thought we could probably be at 21," he said Tuesday night. "I was surprised that the Houck race was this close."
The losses weren't as bad as many were predicting for the Democrats, according to Brian Moran, chair of the state's Democratic party. But he is concerned about whether newly empowered Republicans will want to work across the aisle.
"We'd like to be able to work together and it concerns me a great deal," Moran said Tuesday. "We'll be watching very closely to see how the Lt. Governor conducts himself."
In Northern Virginia, however, Democrats faired well, holding onto to all the contested state senate seats currently held by the party.