Welcome to Project Blue Dominion's 22nd edition of Flip-a-District Friday. This week we're giving you updates on the three House of Delegates races where results are still up in the air.
Regardless of the final number of Democrats in the House of Delegates, we are poised to shape the policy agenda in the General Assembly in a new and exciting way.
Below is a breakdown of where we stand in each of the three uncalled races in the 28th, 40th, and 94th Districts.
Joshua Cole (D) vs. Bob Thomas (R)
The 28th District was won by Donald Trump by 5 points, and has been held easily by retiring Republican Speaker of the House Bill Howell since 1992. Democrat Joshua Cole, who is facing Republican Bob Thomas, made history as the first African-American and the youngest candidate ever to win the Democratic nomination in the 28th District.
Currently, Cole trails Thomas by just 82 votes. There are two major issues, however, that could significantly shift the race's balance.
First, the Stafford County Registrar failed to count 55 absentee ballots that arrived at the Registrar's Office on Wednesday morning -- technically, absentee ballots must be received by 7 pm on Election Day to be counted. In response, we recently filed a federal lawsuit alleging that it was an error on the part of the USPS that prevented the ballots from arriving at the Registrar's Office on time, and thus, the ballots must be counted.
Second, we wrote a letter to election officials contending that over 600 Fredericksburg voters received the wrong ballots on Election Day. The 28th District includes "split precincts" that geographically fall into more than one House of Delegate district -- it appears that voters in split precincts accidentally received ballots for the adjacent 88th District, potentially costing Cole hundreds of votes -- and the win. We have asked the State Board of Elections to investigate and explain what happened.
Donte Tanner (D) vs. Tim Hugo (R)
Unseating an incumbent Delegate is much more difficult than competing in an open seat. Delegate Tim Hugo, when he has had an opponent, has never received less than 57.14 percent of the vote. However, Tanner was a phenomenal candidate who worked tirelessly to get his message out to the voters of the 40th District.
On Election Night, it looked like Tanner won the race against Hugo. Then, during a Wednesday review, 100 votes were found to have been erroneously given to Tanner -- this revelation flipped the race from Tanner being ahead by 68 votes to being behind by 32. As of today, Hugo is up by 106 votes.
Shelly Simonds (D) vs. David Yancey (R)
Simonds had a challenging race against an incumbent Republican Delegate. She had a particularly difficult path to victory given that she entered the race in August after the previous Democratic nominee suddenly withdrew.
Despite the abbreviated timeline, Simonds put together a phenomenal campaign and currently trails Yancey by a mere 10 votes.
The State Board of Elections has until this coming Monday to certify the results of November 7th's elections. After the certifications are issued, we plan to request recounts in each of these three districts.
The majority is still in play, and I'll be sure to keep you posted as we receive updates in the coming weeks.