Political News

Republicans win 'lot draw' for Virginia House seat

Posted January 3, 2018 9:54 p.m. EST
Updated January 4, 2018 11:27 a.m. EST

— BREAKING NEWS: GOP incumbent David Yancey won a "lot draw" in the race for a Virginia's House of Delegates Thursday, giving Republicans control of the chamber.

Minutes before the draw, however, Democrat Shelly Simonds wouldn't commit to accepting the outcome, rather than pursuing a second recount or some other tactic to settle the race. She told reporters she's "keeping all options open, really."

ORIGINAL STORY: What's likely to be the most important lot draw in American political history is set to take place here Thursday.

Virginia's State Board of Elections is scheduled to meet at 11 a.m. ET to settle a 11,608-to-11,608 tie between Democrat Shelly Simonds and Republican incumbent David Yancey for a seat in the state's House of Delegates.

The winner will be chosen through a quirk of democracy established by a 1705 Virginia law on tiebreakers: a lot drawing. Both candidates' names will be placed in film canisters inside a blue and white ceramic bowl made by Virginia artist Steven Glass, and a board of elections member will draw one. That person will be declared the winner.

State legislative races have been settled this way before. In Mississippi in 2015, a House seat was decided by the candidates drawing straws (though the Democratic candidate's win was quickly overturned by the Republican-controlled state House). In 2006, a coin toss settled a primary for an Alaska House seat.

But seldom, if ever, have the stakes been so high. If Yancey wins, Republicans will have a 51-49 majority and keep control of the House -- allowing them to stymie Democrat Ralph Northam, who won November's governor's race. But a Simonds win would force the parties to share power in the House.

It's the second attempt to hold the lot drawing. The first effort, scheduled for December, was canceled when Simonds asked a court to toss out a ballot it had previously decided to count for Yancey, resulting in the tie. The court rejected Simonds' motion on Wednesday.

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