Republican wins recount in Stafford County delegate race

Updated: Dec. 21, 2017 at 5:54 PM EST
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STAFFORD, VA (WWBT) - The state GOP is a step closer to resuming control of the House. District 28 winner, Republican Bob Thomas came out on top once again after Democrat Joshua Cole demanded a recount.

Cole is meeting with a federal judge next month to request a special election. While Cole gained some votes in Thursday's recount, Thomas still had the lead in the race for the open seat.

"When you tell me people in the 28th District were given the wrong ballots, that's not something we can just walk away from quietly," Cole said.

That's why the first-time political candidate says he's fighting until the end. NBC12 watched from behind closed doors as election officials went ballot by ballot. NBC 2 was on hand as the numbers were updated and then certified by a judge.

"This is really about making sure everybody's vote counts. This is not a partisan matter, this is not a win-or-lose matter, this is an equality matter and fighting against disenfranchisement," Cole said.

Initial results declared Thomas the winner, beating Cole by 82 votes. Due to the close margin and some voters receiving wrong ballots, Cole demanded a recount. After a recount, a judge certified Thomas actually won by 73 votes. Many eyes were on this race as both parties fight for control in the Virginia House.

"Across the country for the last 25 years around state legislatures, we've had split votes. In Virginia, the last time was 1997," said NBC12 political analyst Deirdre Condit.

Thomas' win gives the GOP a 50 to 49 advantage. Next week, the winner of the 94th district delegate race between Republican Delegate David Yancey and Democrat Democrat Shelly Simonds will be chosen from a drawing since that recount resulted in a tie.

"I really believe they're just trying to hold on with the slim majority that they have. This is greater than just fighting for power. That's why we have to fight for the people," Cole added.

"I want to thank the volunteers, observers, attorneys, and the recount court who helped today's process go smoothly… I also want to thank Joshua Cole for a hard fought race and the ideas and energy he contributed to the discussion. I look forward to working with him, and representing all the people of Stafford and Fredericksburg in the Virginia House of Delegates. I am honored to have a seat in this historic legislature, and I look forward to putting forth legislation that offers practical solutions to everyday issues," Thomas said in a statement.

Virginia footed the bill for Thursday's recount.

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