Del. Lynwood Lewis, Jr.‚ D-Norfolk, has been declared the winner of the Virginia Senate recount in the 6th District, giving Democrats an advantage in the chamber that may allow them to seize control of committees and control the fate of legislation.
After reviewing the results of a recount requested by Republican candidate Wayne Coleman, a three-judge panel confirmed a razor-thin , 11-vote victory, which stood at 9 votes after the Jan. 7 election.
On Tuesday Lewis will fill the seat of former Sen. Ralph S. Northam, D-Norfolk, now Virginia’s lieutenant governor.
Lewis’ election gives Democrats 20 seats in the 40-member Senate. On Friday, Democrat Jennifer T. Wexton was sworn in as a senator from the 33rd District in Northern Virginia. She won a special election over Republican John Whitbeck and independent Joe May to fill the seat of Democrat Mark Herring, the former senator from Loudoun elected attorney general.
Now, with Northam as a potential tie-breaking vote in the Senate, Democrat Terry McAuliffe elected governor and Herring serving as attorney general, Republican power in Richmond is now confined to the party’s 2-1 advantage in the House of Delegates.
It marks a dramatic turnaround given the GOP’s hold on all three statewide offices and the legislature the last two years.
Still, control of the House effectively gives Republicans the ability to scuttle much of the Democratic legislative agenda. Similarly, Democrats, through an advantage in the Senate and control of the governor’s veto power, can stymie conservative GOP priorities that held sway in the Capitol over the last two years.
In other words, both parties will have to work together and find common ground to get anything done this session.