With control of the Virginia Senate at stake, Republican Wayne Coleman will officially request a recount Thursday in his intensely close race against Democratic Del. Lynwood Lewis.
The State Board of Elections last week certified Lewis (Accomack) as the winner of the contest to succeed Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam in the Senate by just nine votes out of more than 20,000 cast. That margin of .04 percent entitles Coleman to request a recount paid for by local governments in the Hampton Roads-based seat, and he immediately made clear he would do so.
“Today, I’m requesting a recount, because we owe it to the people of the 6th district to make sure we get this one right,” Coleman said Thursday.
The Senate had been divided 20-20 between Democrats and Republicans, but the victories of Northam and Attorney General Mark Herring (D) left two seats vacant. Herring’s seat, which includes Loudoun and part of Fairfax, will be filled by a special election Tuesday.
If Democrats retain both seats, then Northam will serve as the tiebreaking vote. But if Republicans win either one, they take control of the Senate — giving them both chambers of the Assembly and more leverage against new Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D).
The recount of the Coleman-Lewis race will be overseen by a three-judge panel, led by the chief judge of the Accomack Circuit Court, where Coleman will file his recount petition. Each local election board in the district will recount its votes under the watchful eyes of observers from both campaigns, and any ballots on which local officials can’t agree will be sent to the three-judge panel for review.
A similar recount was used to decide the attorney general’s race, which Herring won over state Sen. Mark Obenshain (R-Harrisonburg).