US & Canada

Virginia Democrat Shelly Simonds 'takes seat by one vote'

Republican David Yancey and Democrat Shelly Simonds attend a "take your legislator to school day" at Heritage High School in Newport News, Virginia, 28 November 2017 Image copyright The Washington Post/Getty Images
Image caption Shelly Simonds reportedly beat rival candidate David Yancey (left) by a single vote

A victory by a single vote for a Democratic candidate has tipped the balance of power in the US state of Virginia's legislature, US media say.

Shelly Simonds reportedly beat incumbent Republican David Yancey with 11,608 votes to 11,607 following a recount in the town of Newport News.

The result, which has not yet been confirmed, means a 50-50 power split in the body.

It could mean that a rare power-sharing agreement may have to be reached.

"I just can't believe it, but it sounds like it's pretty solid," Ms Simonds said of the result on Tuesday, the New York Times reports.

"It was a beautiful thing to see democracy in action," she added.

Virginia House of Delegates Democratic Leader David Toscano, said: "Fifty-fifty is an unprecedented event in the 400-year history of the House of Delegates."

Republican leaders at Virginia's House of Delegates issued a statement congratulating Ms Simonds on the result.

Ahead of Tuesday's recount, Mr Yancey was leading by ten votes in the state's 94th District.

The vote, which follows victories for Democrats in the state in November, is subject to confirmation by a panel of judges and Mr Yancey has the option of challenging the ballot.

The new result would mean that Democrats and Republicans would have to share power when the state legislature begins its next term in January, Politico news website reports.

Ms Simonds is an advocate of the Medicaid health insurance programme and has vowed to expand the service. She has also pledged to support a pay increase for teachers.

Republicans, who have controlled Virginia's House of Delegates for 17 years, have held a majority of just one seat in Virginia since losing 15 seats last month in a series of Democratic victories.

In November, Virginia also made history by electing its first openly transgender state legislator.

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