On Tuesday night, Democrat Donte Tanner thought he beat the incumbent Republican Tim Hugo for his seat in the Virginia House of Delegates by just 68 votes. "We knew this was going to be close, but holy moly," Tanner's campaign manager, Alex Vuskovic told the Fauquier Times on Tuesday night. Only, after a routine canvass of the votes on Wednesday, the paper reported, 183 previously uncounted votes for Hugo were discovered, flipping the election in his favor by 115 votes. This is how close some races were during Election Day 2017. Now more than ever, it's clear how much your vote matters.
The sudden flip in Hugo's favor could potentially keep Democrats from sweeping wins across Virginia's Prince William County's delegate races. Hugo will continue to hold his seat in the House, where he's served since 2002. While he ultimately won against Tanner, it's significant that the race was this close. Hugo generally wins these elections by at least 20 points. According to Inside Nova, the district’s voters have chosen Republicans in every presidential, gubernatorial, and Congressional race dating back to 2009. However, Hillary Clinton beat Trump 51-43 last November.
So, it's clear that constituents aren't voting like they used to. Incumbents aren't winning in the landslides that they've grown accustomed to. Even historically red districts turned blue in the 2017 election, and in many cases it came down to a slim margin of votes. Progressive candidate Wilmot Collins unseated Jim Smith as mayor of Helena, Montana, by less than 400 votes.
Your vote could be the one needed to push a progressive candidate forward. If you ever think your voice doesn't matter, the incredibly close races during the 2017 election should prove to you otherwise.
5 Of 7 VA House Of Delegates Were Too Close To Call
Tanner and Hugo's race wasn't the only close call in Tuesday's election. As of Wednesday morning, five of the Virginia House of Delegate races were too close to call, meaning the margin was 150 votes or less.
In some instances, they'll need to be decided with absentee and provisional ballots, according to Dave Wasserman, The Cook Political Report's U.S. House editor. This shows how important it is to vote, even if you're not going to be in town for the election.
Anti-Gun Candidate Beats NRA Favorite By Less Than 2,000 Votes
Democrat Chris Hurst, whose girlfriend Alison Parker was shot and killed on live TV in 2015, unseated Republican and three-time incumbent Joseph Yost in the 12th District House of Delegates.
He won by a little more than 2,000 votes. During his campaign, Hurst said he would prioritize reducing gun violence, whereas Yost has an A-rating with the National Rifle Association.
Democrat Debra Rodman Wins By Less Than 1,000 Votes
Democrat Debra Rodman beat out Republican John O'Bannon for the 73rd District seat in the Virginia House of Delegates by less than 1,000 votes. O'Bannon had ran unopposed since 2009, and every time he did run against someone, he never received less than 62 percent of the vote.
Rodman will advocate for an expansion of Medicaid, something O'Bannon has opposed for years.
One District Comes Down To 12 Votes
One of the closest races took place in Virginia's 94th district. Republican David Yancey beat Democrat Shelly Simonds by just 12 votes. According to the Washington Post, candidates are able to request a recount if a seat is too close to call.
Simonds hasn't conceded and announced that she'll pursue a recount.
Democrat Loses Race By Roughly 100 Votes
Republican Bob Thomas narrowly beat Democrat Joshua Cole by just 104 votes, according to Fredericksberg.com, to fill a vacant seat left by Speaker Bill Howell in the 28th District in Virginia’s House of Delegates.
“We were expecting a little bit more of a cushion going into the city,” Thomas said. “Hats off to [Cole], for sure." Cole's campaign manager said they'll likely ask for a recount.
These close races should prove just how important one vote can be. Your ballot can tip the scale in favor of a candidate who is going to push a district or state forward, not back. Plus, voting is a privilege that women have only had for about the last 100 years, so we better not waste it.
Or, as Ilana Glazer put it on Instagram, "Gotta play the game to win the game to change the game."