“Make no mistake about it, there is a Republican majority in the state Senate,’’ Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling said at an afternoon news conference.
Local elections boards met around the state Wednesday to count provisional ballots and conduct what is known as canvassing, which involves reviewing calculations, tapes from voting machines and other Election Day records to make sure no obvious errors occurred. That process is expected to be completed by Thursday.
The results then will be forwarded to the Virginia State Board of Elections. The board will review the results and formally certify them on Nov. 28. Only at that point can a losing candidate petition the circuit court in his home county for a recount. The candidate would have 10 days from certification to do so.
A Republican pick-up of two Senate seats would divide the 40-member chamber evenly between Republicans and Democrats. Any tie votes would be broken by Bolling, a Republican.
The only other time the chamber split 20-20 Democrats and Republicans split power as part an agreement with both parties sharing control of committees.
Senate Majority Leader Richard L. Saslaw (D-Fairfax) said in an interview Wednesday that the Democrats will pursue counting every ballot in Houck’s race, but acknowledged it does not look promising. “I don’t hold out much hope,’’ Saslaw said. “You go through a lot of what ifs.”
Saslaw said if Houck loses, then Norment will be able to decide whether Republicans take outright control or allow the two parties to share power.
The two spoke Tuesday night. “He’s not an enemy,’’ he said.
In the House of Delegates, Republicans picked up six seats for a two-thirds majority — the highest in Virginia history. Three races were too close to call, Gov. Robert F. McDonnell said late Tuesday.
“It’s a very good night for Republicans in Virginia,” McDonnell said on election night.
The off-year election — Virginia was one of only four states to hold legislative elections Tuesday — is seen as a harbinger for next year’s contests for president and U.S. Senate in the critical swing state. Even without a single candidate running statewide, money poured in from across the nation, contributing to the races’ price tag of more than $50 million.
Winning the Senate would mark a triumph for McDonnell, who raised at least $5 million for Republicans, personally recruited candidates and campaigned in every region of the state.
During the campaign, Republicans sought to capitalize on voters’ anger with Washington, the nation’s high jobless rate and the federal government’s credit rating downgrade. They repeatedly compared Virginia Democrats to President Obama, featuring him in Republican TV ads, mailers and brochures.