- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 2, 2017

A third Democratic candidate has filed for a recount contesting the results of the November 7 election that nearly cost Republicans their majority status in the Virginia House of Delegates.

The campaign of Josh Cole, the Democratic nominee in last month’s District 28 race, requested the recount Friday in Stafford Circuit Court, following in the footsteps of similar efforts mounted recently by fellow Democratic House of Delegates hopefuls Donte Tanner and Shelly Simonds.

Republicans currently hold 66 of the 100 seats in the lower house of Virginia’s legislature, but that number is expected to change significantly next year as an outcome of last month’s vote.

Republicans are slated to maintain control of the House in 2018 by a narrow 51-49 margin, according to preliminary results, but recounts requested by Democrats in the 28th, 40th and 94th District races risk costing the GOP its existing majority if even a single outcome is successfully reversed.

In the 28th District encompassing parts of Stafford and Fredericksburg, Mr. Cole lost to Republican candidate Bob Thomas by only 82 votes, according to preliminary results. Mr. Cole’s campaign said that 147 voters were given ballots for the wrong district, however, and has demanded the mix-up be addressed.

“Under Virginia state code, a recount is allowed when the vote totals of a race are within a one percent difference. Due to the incredibly small difference in the number of votes cast for both Joshua Cole and Robert Thomas, Jr., our campaign naturally believed a recount was necessary to ensure that every voice,” Mr. Cole said in a statement. “Our campaign will continue to explore the options available to us to ensure these situations are corrected and, more importantly, do not reoccur in future elections.”

“We remain concerned that 147 voters were disenfranchised in this election, especially with the margin between the two candidates only being 82 votes,” House Democratic Leader David J. Toscano and Caucus Chair Charniele Herring said in their own statement. “By filing the recount, Josh Cole has taken the next step in ensuring the accuracy of the electoral process.”

The Thomas campaign did not immediately return an email seeking comment.

Ms. Simmons presently trails Republican candidate David Yancey by 10 votes in the 40th district, and Mr. Tanner currently trails Republican candidate Tim Hugo by 106 votes in the 94th District. Their campaigns separately requested recounts earlier this week on Wednesday.

The Nov. 7 House of Delegates race was the first major state legislature election to take place since President Trump took office in January and was viewed by many as a yardstick for measuring the Republican Party’s performance in 2017. The race notably resulted in the election of Democratic candidate Danica Roem, the state’s first openly transgender elected official, as well as Lee Carter, a self-described Democratic socialist, among other party members.

• Andrew Blake can be reached at ablake@washingtontimes.com.

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