Republican David Yancey wins lottery-style drawing in tied Virginia state House

RICHMOND, Va., Jan 4 (Reuters) - Republicans appeared to maintain control of Virginia's House of Delegates on Thursday after their candidate won a dramatic, lottery-style drawing to resolve a tied race, but the losing Democrat said she might challenge the results.

As cameras clicked, state elections board officials displayed slips of paper printed with the names of Republican incumbent David Yancey and Democrat Shelly Simonds to a packed room in Richmond.

The papers were then rolled into new film canisters and placed in a blue-and-white ceramic bowl from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts before elections board Chairman James Alcorn drew Yancey's name and declared him the victor. 

The win gives Republicans a 51-49 seat advantage when the legislature's session starts on Wednesday, letting them determine the House speaker and committee chairmen.

The tie-breaking draw - Virginia's first since 1971 - was unprecedented because of its impact on the House, board Vice Chairwoman Clara Belle Wheeler said.

"This has never been done before for the longest-running, oldest legislative body, if you will, in the New World,” she said after the drawing.

At least 32 states call for a random drawing to resolve some types of elections, such as municipal races. Other states leave the decision to the legislature or require a runoff.

Simonds told reporters she was weighing her options, raising the prospect of a second recount as allowed by law.

"At this moment, I am not conceding," she said.

RELATED: A look at Shelly Simmonds

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RICHMOND, VA - JANUARY 04: Virginia House of Delegates candidate Shelly Simonds (R) (D-VA), accompanied by her daughter Georgia Danehy (L) and husband Paul Danehy (R) attends a meeting of the Virginia State Board of Elections January 4, 2018 in Richmond, Virginia. Simonds and Republican candidate Del. David Yancey (R-VA) were locked in a tied race that was decided by pulling a name from a bowl with the two candidates names inside the bowl. Yancey's name was pulled from the bowl and Republicans retained control of the Virginia House of Delegates, though an additional recount in the race is still possible. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
RICHMOND, VA - JANUARY 04: Slips of paper with the names of Virginia House of Delegates candidates Shelly Simonds (D-VA) and David Yancey (R-VA) are shown during a meeting of the Virginia State Board of Elections January 4, 2018 in Richmond, Virginia. The slips of paper were later placed inside old film cannisters and drawn from a bowl to decide a tied race between the two candidates. Yancey's name was pulled from the bowl and Republicans retained control of the Virginia House of Delegates, though an additional recount in the race is still possible. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
RICHMOND, VA - JANUARY 04: Slips of paper with the names of Virginia House of Delegates candidates Shelly Simonds (D-VA) and David Yancy (R-VA) are drawn from a bowl during a meeting of the Virginia State Board of Elections January 4, 2018 in Richmond, Virginia. The slips of paper were placed inside old film cannisters and drawn from the bowl to decide a tied race between the two candidates. Yancey's name was pulled from the bowl and Republicans retained control of the Virginia House of Delegates, though an additional recount in the race is still possible. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
RICHMOND, VA - JANUARY 04: Virginia House of Delegates candidate Shelly Simonds (R) (D-VA), accompanied by her daughter Georgia Danehy (L) attends a meeting of the Virginia State Board of Elections January 4, 2018 in Richmond, Virginia. Simonds and Republican candidate Del. David Yancey (R-VA) were locked in a tied race that was decided by pulling a name from a bowl with the two candidates names inside the bowl. Yancey's name was pulled from the bowl and Republicans retained control of the Virginia House of Delegates, though an additional recount in the race is still possible. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
RICHMOND, VA - JANUARY 04: Virginia House of Delegates candidate Shelly Simonds (D-VA) speaks to members of the press following a meeting of the Virginia State Board of Elections January 4, 2018 in Richmond, Virginia. Simonds and Republican candidate Del. David Yancey (R-VA) were locked in a tied race that was decided by pulling a name from a bowl with the two candidates names inside the bowl. Yancey's name was pulled from the bowl and Republicans retained control of the Virginia House of Delegates, though an additional recount in the race is still possible. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
RICHMOND, VA - JANUARY 04: Virginia House of Delegates candidate Shelly Simonds (2nd L) (D-VA), accompanied by her daughter Georgia Danehy (C) and her husband Paul Danehy (R), leaves a meeting of the Virginia State Board of Elections January 4, 2018 in Richmond, Virginia. Simonds and Republican candidate Del. David Yancey (R-VA) were locked in a tied race that was decided by pulling a name from a bowl with the two candidates names inside the bowl. Yancey's name was pulled from the bowl and Republicans retained control of the Virginia House of Delegates, though an additional recount in the race is still possible. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
NEWPORT NEWS, VA - November 28: Republican David Yancey and Democrat Shelly Simonds attend a 'take your legislator to school day' Tuesday, November 28 at Heritage High School in Newport News, Va. Yancey leads Simonds by ten votes in the 94th District in the Virginia House of Delegates race. (Photo by Julia Rendleman for The Washington Post via Getty Images)
NEWPORT NEWS, VA - November 28: Democrat Shelly Simonds walks out on the pier at Riverview Farm Park Tuesday, November 28 in Newport News, Va. Expanding the park to the James River and preventing development in the area was a central campaign issue for Simonds. Republican David Yancey leads Simonds by ten votes in the 94th District in the Virginia House of Delegates race. (Photo by Julia Rendleman for The Washington Post via Getty Images)
NEWPORT NEWS, VA - November 28: Democrat Shelly Simonds talks to her former student, Aaron Greco, 17, during a 'take your legislator to school day' Tuesday, November 28 at Heritage High School in Newport News, Va. Republican David Yancey leads Simonds by ten votes in the 94th District in the Virginia House of Delegates race. (Photo by Julia Rendleman for The Washington Post via Getty Images)
NEWPORT NEWS, VA - November 28: Democrat Shelly Simonds talks to Cindy Li and Zhi Chao Lin at the Asian Grill next to her former campaign headquarters Tuesday, November 28 at Heritage High School in Newport News, Va. Republican David Yancey leads Simonds by ten votes in the 94th District in the Virginia House of Delegates race. (Photo by Julia Rendleman for The Washington Post via Getty Images)
NEWPORT NEWS, VA - November 28: Republican David Yancey and Democrat Shelly Simonds attend a 'take your legislator to school day' Tuesday, November 28 at Heritage High School in Newport News, Va. Yancey leads Simonds by ten votes in the 94th District in the Virginia House of Delegates race. (Photo by Julia Rendleman for The Washington Post via Getty Images)
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Yancey would not be seated in the case of a recount. But Republicans would still control the House by a 50-49 margin, despite Democrats' massive gains in Virginia's statehouse elections in November.

Yancey, prevented by a winter storm from attending the drawing, said in a statement, "The election is behind us, the outcome is clear, and my responsibility now is to begin the work I was re-elected to do."

The random draw was the latest twist after a recount showed Simonds beating Yancey by one vote for the 94th District seat in southeastern Virginia. A court later ruled that a disputed ballot should be counted for Yancey, creating a tie.

Republicans also control the state Senate. Democrat Ralph Northam is to be sworn in as governor on Jan. 13.

A second House race remains in dispute. Voters filed a federal lawsuit over the election in the 28th District, where a Republican won after at least 147 ballots were found to be assigned to the wrong districts. 

 

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