The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

With judges’ ruling in recount, GOP cements two-seat majority in Virginia House of Delegates

A recount affirmed that Del. Martha M. Mugler (D-Hampton) lost her House seat to Republican challenger A.C. Cordoza. (Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post)
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RICHMOND — Republicans solidified a two-seat majority in the House of Delegates on Wednesday after a recount affirmed that Republican A.C. Cordoza unseated Del. Martha M. Mugler (D) in a close race in Hampton.

The outcome, which a panel of three circuit court judges affirmed Wednesday, gives Republicans a 52-48 majority in the House of Delegates just two years after they lost control of the chamber they’d held for a generation. In 2019, Democrats won a 10-seat majority amid a suburban backlash against then-President Donald Trump, but their reign was short-lived. The GOP roared back to power Nov. 2 with a ticket led by Gov.-elect Glenn Youngkin and his running mates, Lt. Gov.-elect Winsome Sears and Attorney General-elect Jason S. Miyares.

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Cordoza led Mugler by 94 votes out of 27,836 votes cast on Election Day, a margin below the 0.5 percent mark permitting a publicly funded recount. The recount affirmed Cordoza’s win, but his margin shrank to 64 votes, according to the court’s order.

“Although I am disappointed in the results, I respect the court’s decision, and I am formally conceding my campaign,” Mugler said in a written statement. “Recounts offer the opportunity to make sure each vote has been counted accurately and instill confidence when margins are razor-thin.”

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Del. Todd Gilbert (R-Shenandoah), slated to become House speaker, congratulated Cordoza and pledged to be ready to assume the speakership despite the delay.

“We will continue to work with the outgoing Democratic majority for a timely transition so as to be prepared to work on day one,” Gilbert said in a written statement. “The session begins in a little over a month, and Virginians expect us to be ready to work the moment the gavel drops.”

The Cordoza-Mugler race was one of two squeakers that, for weeks after Election Day, left control of the House in doubt. The other race was decided in Republicans’ favor Friday, after a recount affirmed that Republican challenger Karen Greenhalgh defeated incumbent Del. Alex Askew (D-Virginia Beach) — ensuring that the GOP would retake control of the House when it convenes Jan. 12.

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