At 11:00 Thursday morning, the State Board of Elections met in Richmond to randomly pick a name out of a bowl, an action that would not only determine the winner of the tied 94th House district race, but also the balance of power in an evenly-split House of Delegates (a result of the November 7th shakeup) – and just days before the start of the 2018 legislative session. We were there to catch an inside glimpse, and boy was it an intense – and unprecedented – moment in all of Virginia electoral history. The room was thick with the sense of watching history in the making.
After winning the original vote count on election night by 11 votes, then losing a recount by one vote, and then ending up in a tie the following day, incumbent Republican Delegate David Yancey won today’s draw over Democrat challenger Shelly Simonds, putting Republicans at a 51-49 advantage in the House. We anticipate Ms. Simonds will ask for an additional recount, to which she is legally entitled, but which is not expected to be completed before the legislative session begins. Costly litigation is also not out of the question in the Democrats desperate zeal to gain power in Richmond.
Effectively, today’s result means that Del. Kirk Cox (R-66, Colonial Heights) is fully expected to become the new Speaker when the members of the House vote to choose one on Jan. 10th, the first day of the 2018 session. The Speaker makes all committee assignments, and the Speaker’s party generally gets a majority of the seats on each committee. We have known and worked with Delegate Cox for many years, and we know Virginia will be blessed to have a man of his caliber and integrity in such a pivotal role. He could use our prayers now more than ever, as well as all those in leadership positions in the Commonwealth.
The retiring Speaker, Bill Howell, could also really use our prayers right now. If you haven’t heard, he underwent emergency heart surgery on Tuesday night, and is recovering in an intensive care unit. Though we don’t know all the details of his condition, it is a timely reminder of the heavy burden our governmental leaders carry, and how much they need our daily prayers.
We are hopeful about what today’s news could mean for our continued fight to protect life, marriage, parental authority, religious liberty, and constitutional government in Virginia. But regardless, we recognize this year comes with new and even greater challenges. We appreciate all your prayers for The Family Foundation as well, as we work with the new leadership in Richmond to defend our shared values.