The recount was one of four scheduled for House races that ended with extremely tight margins. The 94th District had by far the slimmest vote difference and the biggest chance of flipping.
Last week, Republican Del. Tim Hugo held onto his seat in Fairfax County after a recount had a marginal impact on his 100-plus vote lead. Two more recounts are set to take place on Wednesday and Thursday for districts in and around Richmond and in the Fredericksburg area.
If Democrats and Republicans ultimately find themselves evenly split, a messy dynamic could unfold. The parties may have to compromise just to elect a speaker and assign committee chairmanships.
The last time Virginia’s House was evenly divided was 20 years ago, when the parties reached a power-sharing agreement. But if no agreement can be reached, prolonged chaos could ensue.
“Politics is a lot more partisan today than the last time we were in a comparable situation,” said Stephen Farnsworth, a political science professor at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg. “It’s probably a recipe for gridlock.”
Speaking at lunchtime, long before the recount ended, Simonds said she was optimistic that lawmakers could find compromise and get things done in Richmond despite a split chamber.
“I’m an optimistic person,” she said. “We can work with Republicans.”
She cited common ground such as increasing teacher pay, expanding maternity leave for state employs and criminal justice reform that would lead to fewer people being in prison.
The recount is the first to flip the results of a Virginia House race in at least 20 years, according to the Virginia Public Access Project.
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