Virginia Democrats Win Senate Seat, Move Closer to Chamber Control

Virginia Democrats won a state Senate election yesterday in a district near Washington, D.C., putting them in position to control the chamber if a recount upholds a Democratic win in another district.

Democrat Jennifer Wexton, a lawyer and former local prosecutor, defeated Republican John Whitbeck by 53 to 37 percent to win the district that Democrat Mark Herring vacated to become Virginia’s Attorney General. Independent Joe May, a former Republican member of the state House of Delegates, had 10 percent.

Wexton will represent parts of Loudoun and Fairfax Counties in filling one of two vacancies in the Virginia Senate, where Republicans control 20 seats and the Democrats hold 18 seats. The other vacancy is in a southeastern Virginia district where Democrat Lynwood Lewis’s nine-vote win in a Jan. 7 election is being vetted by a recount of votes.

Lewis would succeed Democrat Ralph Northam, who’s now lieutenant governor and the state Senate’s presiding officer. The state Constitution allows Northam to vote to break ties in his party’s favor.

Wexton’s victory was expected in a district that voted for President Barack Obama by 20 percentage points in the 2012 election.

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