Republicans are declaring victory in a tightly contested race for the Virginia Senate, pending a recount.
GOP members were almost ready to concede defeat Tuesday night until shortly before midnight, when several of the races tightened up. Republican challenger Bill Stanley was declared the winner of his race against incumbent Roscoe Reynolds (D) in the 20th District, and Republican Bryce Reeves has a narrow victory against incumbent state senator Edd Houck (D) in the 17th district.
Both races were close, and a recount is expected in the 17th District race, as Reeves' margin of victory is currently only 86 votes. The vote counts show Stanley winning by more than 600 votes.
As the witching hour approached, Fairfax County Republican Party chairman Anthony Bedell declared Republican control of the state senate, pending a recount.
“Overall, I think, a win is a win. And that’s how you have to look at it," Bedell said. "But we certainly need to look at doing better in other areas. We are very competitive in Fairfax County, but we weren’t in Arlington and Alexandria, and we need to figure that puzzle out.”
Republicans also claimed victory in a key Fairfax County Board of Supervisors race, in which incumbent Republican Supervisor John Cook fended off Democratic challenger Janet Oleszek in a hotly contested race. The GOP also picked up a seat on the Fairfax County school board, with Republican Elizabeth Schultz beating Democrat John Wittman in the Springfield district. School board incumbent Republican Patty Reed, who ran unopposed, retained her seat.
The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors race featured incumbent Republican John Cook fending off Democratic challenger Janet Oleszek in a hotly contested race. The Republican school board candidates who claimed victory were incumbent Patty Reed, who ran unopposed, and newcomer Elizabeth Schultz, who won in the Springfield District against Democrat John Wittman.
And although Republicans resoundingly took the state house, winning a record 66 seats in that body, control of the Virginia Senate still rests on the results of the recount in District 17.
Frank Fannon, a Republican on the Alexandria City Council, said at the GOP's victory party Tuesday that the evenly divided senate is par for the course in Virginia, which is not squarely red or blue.
“We’re very well divided, and it’s a very balanced state," he said. "This is what Virginia is all about: close elections."