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Virginia Democrats effectively control state Senate after recount

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A recount Monday confirmed that Democrat Lynwood W. Lewis Jr. won a special election for a Virginia Senate seat this month, giving effective control of the General Assembly's upper chamber to Democrats.

Mr. Lewis held off Republican B. Wayne Coleman, who asked for the publicly funded recount after an initial tally had him trailing by nine votes in a contest that saw 20,000 ballots cast.

Elections officials confirmed that the margin of victory climbed from 9 to 11 votes after the ballots were re-examined. Mr. Lewis will take the seat formerly held by Democratic Lt. Gov. Ralph S. Northam representing the 6th District in the Hampton Roads area.

The win means the Senate is again evenly divided, 20-20, between Republicans and Democrats. Democrat Jennifer Wexton last week fended off two challengers in a Northern Virginia contest for the seat vacated by Attorney General Mark R. Herring. But Democrats will have effective control because Mr. Northam will cast the tie-breaking vote in the chamber.

Although Republicans hold the majority in the House of Delegates, Democrats swept the top three statewide office in November's elections, led by Gov. Terry McAuliffe.

Mr. McAuliffe faced the prospect of trying to advance an agenda that includes expanding Medicaid in the face of a Republican-controlled General Assembly.

"I am glad that the process of filling each vacant seat in the General Assembly is now complete and I look forward to working with Lynwood and members of both parties in the General Assembly to tackle the challenges facing Virginia's economy and communities," the governor said in a statement.

The recount in the special election is the second in the state in recent months. Mr. Herring claimed victory over Republican attorney general candidate Mark D. Obenshain after a recount last month.

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