Every vote truly matters in down ballot elections. Virginia’s local elections are frequently won by slim margins, and the effect of the results on policy can be huge.
The Dogwood compiled a list of some of the particularly close races from recent history below.
DISTRICT 94 VIRGINIA HOUSE RACE (tie)
The 2017 race between Rep. David Yancey (R ) and Shelly Simonds (D) for a House of Delegates seat was so close that it ended in an actual tie. Both candidates received exactly 11,608 votes, while Libertarian candidate Michael Barley received 675. Ultimately the tie was broken by a drawing— with a Virginia election official pulling a film canister holding a slip of paper with Yancey’s name from a large ceramic bowl. The stakes for the race could not have been higher, as Yancey’s victory gave a 51-to-49 seat control of Virginia’s House to the Republicans.
DISTRICT 28 VIRGINIA HOUSE RACE (82 vote margin)
The 2017 race for Stafford County’s House seat between Rep Bob Thomas (R) and Joshua Cole (D) was determined by just 82 votes. Rep Thomas won the race with 11,842 votes to Cole’s 11,760. Since taking office, Rep Thomas has praised near-total abortion bans and has received criticism from environmental groups.
DISTRICT 40 VIRGINIA HOUSE RACE (106 vote margin)
Incumbent Rep Tim Hugo (R ) just barely held onto his House seat in 2017, eking out a victory over Donte Tanner (D) by only 106 votes. Rep Hugo received 15,110 votes to Tanner’s 15,004. Hugo is currently Fairfax County’s only remaining Republican in the General Assembly.
DISTRICT 27 VIRGINIA HOUSE RACE (128 vote margin)
Rep Roxann Robinson (R ) won 2017’s election over Larry Barnett for District 27’s House seat by fewer than one percentage point. Robinson had 14,461 or 50.16% of the votes, and Barnett received 14,333 or 49.72%. While Barnett advocated against putting corporate profit before environmental safety, Robinson went on to introduce a bill that would have granted energy companies exemption from having to divulge the concentrations of chemicals they used for fracking in Virginia.
DISTRICT 87 VIRGINIA HOUSE RACE (320 vote margin)
Democratic Representative John Bell flipped District 87 when he beat Republican challenger Chuong Nguyen by just 320 votes to represent in the House of Delegates. The tight margin was particularly notable because third party candidate, Libertarian Brian Thomas Suojanen, received 343 votes.
DISTRICT 68 VIRGINIA HOUSE RACE (336 vote margin)
Democrat Rep. Dawn Adams beat out Republican incumbent George Manuel Loupassi for his seat by fewer than one percent of the vote. 19,761 voters went for Rep. Adams while 19,425 chose Loupassi. The race was so close that Loupassi requested a recount, which confirmed Adams’ victory. Adams’ election made her the first openly gay woman to serve in Virginia’s General Assembly.
DISTRICT 85 VIRGINIA HOUSE RACE (389 vote margin)
Democratic Representative Cheryl Turpin beat Rocky Holcomb by just 389 votes for Virginia Beach’s seat in 2017. Turpin received 11,843 votes to Holcomb’s 11,454.
DISTRICT 10 VIRGINIA STATE SENATE (1,478 vote margin)
The 2015 race for District 10’s Virginia’s State Senate seat was extremely tight with State Sen. Glen Sturtevant (R ) ultimately beating out Dan Gecker (D) by fewer than 1,500 votes. The slim margin between the two frontrunners was less than the 1,663 combined votes of the two third-party candidates also in the race. Sturtevant’s victory played a key role in Republicans maintaining their 21-19 majority in the State Senate.
US SENATE (17,727 vote margin)
Democratic Senator Mark Warner was elected to the U.S. Senate by less than one percentage point back in 2014. Senator Warner received 1,073,667 votes while Republican candidate Ed Gillespie received 1,055,940, and Libertarian candidate Robert Sarvis received 53,102. The policy differences between the two frontrunners were stark with Warner voicing support for gay marriage, the Affordable Care Act, and women’s access to abortion while Gillespie voiced strong opposition to all three.