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By Karen Shanton

Out of more than 20,000 votes cast in the Jan. 7 special election in Virginia’s 6th Senate District, just nine separated Democrat Lynwood Lewis and Republican Wayne Coleman at the end of the initial canvass. With such a tight margin, trailing candidate Coleman requested a recount. That recount, which concluded on Monday, shifted two additional votes into Lewis’ column, for a final tally of 10,203 to 10,192.

Lynwood Lewis - Assocated PressThe result caps a string of close elections in Virginia this cycle. The attorney general contest between Democrat Mark Herring and Republican Mark Obenshain also went to a recount. And Democrat Terry McAuliffe narrowly edged out Republican Ken Cuccinelli in the governor’s race, with 48.0 percent of the vote to Cuccinelli’s 45.5 percent.

Lewis’ victory helped shift control of the state Senate to the Democrats. Before the November elections, the Senate was evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats, with Republican Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling casting the tiebreaking vote. By holding Lewis’ seat, as well as the 33rd District seat that was filled in a special election last Tuesday, Democrats maintained the 50-50 split in the chamber. With a win by Democrat Ralph Northam in the lieutenant governor race in November, they also picked up the tiebreaking vote.

That leaves Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe facing a strongly Republican House of Delegates and a narrowly Democratic Senate as the 2014 session kicks off in Virginia.

Karen Shanton is a legislative studies specialist and ACLS public fellow at NCSL

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This blog offers updates on the National Conference of State Legislatures' research and training, the latest on federalism and the state legislative institution, and posts about state legislators and legislative staff. The blog is edited by NCSL staff and written primarily by NCSL's experts on public policy and the state legislative institution.

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