By EVE CEDERBAUM
With the narrow defeat of incumbent Democratic Sen. Edd Houck by Bryce Reeves in Senate District 17 Tuesday night, the Democratic Party lost control of Virginia’s State Senate. As of Wednesday morning, 45,073 votes have been cast, with 22,610 votes for Reeves and 22,386 votes for Houck.
According to the Virginia State Board of Elections, Reeves won Tuesday’s election by 226 votes, placing him beyond a one percent margin of error. This means that if a recount is done, it will have to come out of Houck’s own pocket.
Reeves announced his victory via twitter early Wednesday morning, but according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch and the Washington Post, Craig Bieber, Houck’s campaign manager, believes this race will come down to “Wednesday morning canvasses and provisional ballots” and that “Senator Houck will ultimately prevail in the final outcome.”
A statement released by Houck Tuesday night said, “The race for this seat remains too close to call.”
With Reeves declared the winner, the GOP will have complete control over the Virginia General Assembly, with a high majority in the House of Delegates and an even split in the Senate with the tie breaker vote cast by Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, who is also a Republican.
“I think Reeves’ win can be accredited to the grassroots efforts by the UMW CRs and other campaign volunteers in the last 72 hours. The campaign specifically targeted Spotsylvanina Co. which proved to be the area where Bryce picked up the majority of the votes,” said Chairman of the College Republicans and senior, Erica Gouse.
Gouse is happy to have worked on the Reeves campaign for the past year.
“We are confident that Senator-elect Reeves will represent Sen. District 17 to the best of his abilities,” said Gouse.
The Bullet attempted to reach the President of the Young Democrats, senior Brenden Outekerk for comment, but he was unavailable.
In the weeks and days leading up to the election, both campaigns went into hyper drive, canvassing both on and off campus with the help of the University of Mary Washington College Republicans and Young Democrats, respectively, to encourage community members and students to get out the vote by holding press conferences, passing out stickers and signs, and offering rides to the local polling center at Walker Grant Elementary School.
According to Chief Election Officer Roberta Gold, a polling officer at Walker Grant Elementary School in Fredericksburg, voter turnout was “exceptional,” and the school was the busiest polling area in Fredericksburg, with over 1,000 people having voted by 5 p.m. Gold also noted that there were more young voters this year and cited “the electronic equipment” and an uptick in hand-out material for the good turnout.
“It was really fast, there was no line,” said junior Bryanne Salazar.
Voter turnout was generally low across the state, with Senate district 17 having 37 percent turnout.
Republicans are already using this to build momentum for the upcoming presidential election, with McDonnell appearing on morning news program, “Morning Joe,” Wednesday morning, calling the vote “a repudiation of many of the president’s policies, but more importantly a verification, a validation of our problem solving, pro-job, pro-economic development policies,” and saying it’s “a huge win” for the party.