A Single Vote Has Flipped Control Of Virginia's House Of Delegates That one vote means that Republicans will have to share control of the state's lower house with Democrats for the first time in 17 years. Democrats say they'll use the victory to expand Medicaid.
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A Single Vote Has Flipped Control Of Virginia's House Of Delegates

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A Single Vote Has Flipped Control Of Virginia's House Of Delegates

A Single Vote Has Flipped Control Of Virginia's House Of Delegates

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Around election time you often hear that every vote counts, but it's rare that turns out to be literally true. However, Republicans have lost control of Virginia's statehouse after a recount in a race where the winning Democrat got 11,608 votes and her opponent got 11,607 votes. Now the Virginia House of Delegates is split 50-50. Mallory Noe-Payne from member station WVTF has more.

MALLORY NOE-PAYNE, BYLINE: Going into the recount, Democrat Shelly Simonds was short 10 votes. But after hours of meticulous work by election officials, Simonds pulled past her opponent, Republican David Yancey, by just one vote.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

SHELLY SIMONDS: I think landslide Shelly sounds great. (Laughter). You can call me anything. Just call me delegate. (Laughter).

NOE-PAYNE: Speaking with reporters at the end of the day, Simonds says she was in awe of the process and what can happen when Democrats show up at the polls.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

SIMONDS: And I think this victory really showed that when the nation pays attention to states, we're going to make a lot of progress.

NOE-PAYNE: The loss is just one in a series of electoral blows for Republicans. In November, Virginia Democrats turned out in huge numbers, electing a new governor and decimating the GOP supermajority in the state legislature.

QUENTIN KIDD: This just gives you a sense of how big the wave was in this last election.

NOE-PAYNE: Quentin Kidd is a political science professor at Christopher Newport University. He says Virginia hasn't had a split legislature since 1997.

KIDD: This is really going to be a test for both parties' ability to work the way voters want parties and politicians to work, and that is across lines and compromising.

NOE-PAYNE: There are still two recounts pending. Democrats are hoping they may even gain the majority, making it possible for them to easily raise the minimum wage or expand Medicaid. But Charniele Herring, chair of the House Democratic Caucus, sees a chance for bipartisanship.

CHARNIELE HERRING: I'm optimistic that we can actually be a model for the nation.

NOE-PAYNE: In a statement, Republican leaders say they're ready to govern alongside their colleagues. Votes in the race are expected to be certified later today. For NPR News, I'm Mallory Noe-Payne in Richmond, Va.

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