Sen. Ed Houck( D-Spotsylvania) listens to debate during a Senate session in February 2010. (Steve Helber/AP)

As ballot-counting ended Tuesday night, a mere 86 votes put Republican challenger Bryce E. Reeves ahead of Spotsylvania incumbent state Sen. R. Edward Houck (D) in the race for the 17th district seat.

Reeves, a businessman who serves on the Military Advisory Council for Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R), gained election supporters who said they wanted “fresh blood,” and others said they supported Republican values. (Hear more about the issues at hand here.) Reeves tweeted an informal victory announcement Tuesday evening but tempered it with the need to verify the close count Wednesday:

Friends- the results are deemed official just now at this point by SBE and we won! thanks to everyone for your prayers and support! More wedWed Nov 09 05:14:26 via Twitter for iPhoneBryce Reeves

Verifying votes all day today in our close victory.Wed Nov 09 13:36:35 via Twitter for iPhoneBryce Reeves

Houck’s Twitter feed has been silent since Nov. 7, but the longtime incumbent took to his Facebook page to write to his supporters:

“As I write, the outcome of yesterday’s election remains in question while the proper legal procedures are initiated to insure the final results are accurate. What is not in question is my heartfelt gratitude for the all of the support I have been afforded by many friends, relatives and colleagues. Stay tuned in to get the final results.

Thanks for all of your assistance.”

Houck had been a target of antiabortion activists in the weeks leading up to the election. In October, the Susan B. Anthony List Candidate Fund spent $25,000 on a campaign to expose what they called Houck’s “extreme record on abortion.” The antiabortion No Excuse Ministry PAC also distributed fliers entitled “Would you support killing African-American babies?” in effort to prevent Houck’s reelection.