After an extremely close race, Republican David Yancey won a Virginia House of Delegates seat during a tie-breaking draw. The race was so close that Republicans almost lost their 51-49 majority in the Virginia House of Delegates. In an unusual move, the Virginia elections board decided to resolve the tie-break between Yancey, a three-term incumbent, and Democrat Shelly Simonds through a televised election lottery. Simonds is legally entitled to ask for a second recount, in which case Yancey wouldn't likely be seated right away. But who is David Yancey, other than the winner of a highly unusual election?
According to his delegate campaign website, Yancey was born and raised in Newport News, Virginia, located in the same district for which Yancey has served as delegate for three terms. He graduated from the University of Georgia in 1995, with a B.A. in Political Science and History. He returned to Newport News in 2001, where, according to BallotPedia, he worked for his family's real estate business. He eventually started his own real estate business in 2003 and a commercial fishing business in 2009.
2011 marked Yancey's first official foray into politics. That year, he was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates to represent District 94 and appointed to the City of Newport News Mayor's Efficiency Task Force on city government and the Newport News Education Foundation.
Like Simonds, a representative on the Newport News School Board, education has been a key issue for Yancey. Yancey has long been in support of increasing teacher pay, and does not want test taking to be the primary focus of students' education. Yancey has also seen eye-to-eye with Democrats on issues like domestic violence leave and solar energy. However, although Simonds and Yancey were able to find common ground on education and other key issues, Yancey has voted along party lines on issues like abortion, immigration, and guns.
Back in 2012, for example, Yancey voted in favor of two bills that defined life as beginning at conception and required ultrasounds prior to abortion. Then, in the past two years, VoteSmart noted that Yancey also did the following:
- voted against the establishment of sanctuary cities;
- voted to prohibit firearm regulation without legislative authorization;
- voted to rescind funding from certain abortion clinics.
While it's clear that Simonds and Yancey certainly share some common ground, Yancey's apparent victory comes as a blow to Democrats who hoped to bring the GOP majority to an end.
This election process for this particular Virginia House of Delegates seat from District 94 has been quite drawn-out. On Election Day, Yancey seemed to win by 10 votes. Then, back in December, a county-by-county recount of the votes led to a Democratic victory by a single vote. This would have led to a 50-50 split for Democrats and Republicans in the house after 17 years of a GOP majority, according to NPR. However, another recount found one extra vote for Yancey, leading to a tie of 11,607 votes for both him and Simonds. It was this tiebreak that led the Virginia elections board to hold a tie-breaking drawing.
When it was time for the drawing, the eyes of almost 100 state officials were on a Virginia elections official as he reached into a ceramic bowl and pulled out a name: Yancey's. Yancey was reportedly not present for the drawing, but Simonds was in the front row with her husband and daughter. The Washington Post reported that shortly after Yancey's name came out of the bowl, Simonds did not rule out a recount — "All options are on the table" — and told reporters that she is not yet conceding to Yancey.