Virginia Takeover

As of last night, Virginia Republicans are a handful of votes away from flipping control of the Virginia Senate from Democrats and gaining power over the entire legislature. The outcome depends on the final count of provisional ballots in the 17th District (home to Fredericksburg), where Republican challenger Bryce Reeves is narrowly leading Democratic incumbent Ed Houck by 86 votes.

Democrats have held the state Senate majority since 2007, when they won a razor-thin majority of 21–19. That margin increased by one seat in 2010, when Democrat Dave Marsden won a special election to replace the position vacated by now-Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli. If Republicans win in the 17th District, they will have gained two seats in the senate, bringing the final composition to 20–20 –- with GOP Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling seving as the tiebreaker.

Given the extent to which this would be a precarious majority, it’s unclear whether the Virginia GOP would use this as an opportunity to revisit legislation rejected by the formerly Democratic chamber. What is clear, though, is that a GOP win would add weight to Republican Governor Bob McDonnell’s position as a vice-presidential contender. McDonnell enjoys high approval ratings from Virginia residents, which—if he receives the VP nod—might improve the GOP nominee’s position in the newly minted swing state.