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Democrat, who lost Va. House race by random drawing, concedes to Republican

Members of the media surround Democrat Delegate Shelly A. Simonds, after she lost a drawing to Delegate David E. Yancey, R-Newport News, at the State Board of Elections in Richmond, Va., Thursday. (Bob Brown/Richmond Times-Dispatch via AP) (Bob Brown/AP)

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WSET) -- Democrat Shelly Simonds, who lost the tied 94th District House election last week in a random drawing, has given up her right to a recount, announcing on Twitter that she has conceded.

“It is with great disappointment that I have conceded this election to David Yancey," Simonds said in a statement. "When I called him, I asked him to vote for Medicaid expansion to help the hard-working people of the district without medical care.?

This move comes just an hour before the House reconvened for its 60-day session in the General Assembly.

Incumbent Delegate David Yancey, a Republican, will be seated without complaints from Democrats.

“I want to thank my supporters and everyone in our community who came out to vote," Simonds statement continued. "We’ve had an amazing civics lesson in the power of every vote, and I hope the legacy of this campaign will be record high turnout in Newport News forevermore."

With Yancey in place, Republicans will have a 51-49 majority in the House.

Simonds had until January 16 to request a recount, but she said she decided not to, albeit difficult, and in the long run history will be the judge of the election.

"People will remember how we fought and what we said," she wrote. "They will see the ballot and how the court order was violated and how a recount, conducted by citizens of the district, was undone.?"

On Election Day, in November, Yancey appeared to have one the race by 10 votes, but Simonds requested a recount and it put her ahead by a single vote.

The next day, a three judge recount court decided that a ballot discarded during the recount should be tallied for Yancey, bringing the race to a tie.

To break the tie, state election officials picked a name out a bowl.

Simonds wrote in her statement that she's announcing her candidacy for the 94th District seat in 2019 and will center her campaign on things Virginia most care about: health care, education, and reforms that will ensure their voices are head at the polls.

FULL STATEMENT BELOW:

“It is with great disappointment that I have conceded this election to David Yancey. When I called him, I asked him to vote for Medicaid expansion to help the hard-working people of the district without medical care.
“I want to thank my supporters and everyone in our community who came out to vote. We’ve had an amazing civics lesson in the power of every vote, and I hope the legacy of this campaign will be record high turnout in Newport News forevermore.
“The decision not to request a second recount was a difficult one, and in the long run, history will be the judge of this election. People will remember how we fought and what we said. They will see the ballot and how the court order was violated and how a recount, conducted by citizens of the district, was undone.
“My hope is that next time there won’t be a recount, as I’m today announcing my candidacy for 94th District seat in 2019. I will center my campaign on the things I know Virginians most care about: health care, education, and reforms that will ensure their voices are heard at the polls.
“This unprecedented story has brought attention to election law in Virginia. This tight campaign exposed a number of problems; it needs to be easier for people to vote absentee, and ballots that are postmarked by Election Day should be counted in a close election like mine. We need to make sure college students are not kicked off voter rolls when they renew their licenses at 20 and 21 years old. We need to ban the practice of split precincts in Virginia, which complicates the recount process and disenfranchises voters. None of the wealthiest neighborhoods in Newport News have split precincts. Denbigh precinct is split three ways, dividing neighborhoods and diluting their community power.
“We need fair redistricting reform in Virginia so that politicians can’t pick their own voters. The 94th district displays some of the worst gerrymandering in the state, with apartment complexes intentionally packed into the neighboring district and the Denbigh community cut up between three delegates. The best example of this problem is how easy it is to meet someone from the Riverside neighborhood and say, “you’re in my district, will you vote for me?” Compare this to meeting someone in Denbigh who doesn’t know their district number, and we have to pull out our phones to find a map, which doesn’t show the district lines, and then go to a website to search by the voter address. This has happened to me at least a dozen times. It should be as easy a conversation in Denbigh as it is in Riverside. It shouldn’t be hard for citizens to know who will be on their ballot on Election Day.
“Finally, I’d also like to thank the House Democratic Caucus, which has stood by me every step of the way, as well as the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, Forward Majority, Emerge Virginia, EMILY’s List, Sister District, Planned Parenthood, Open Progress, the League of Conservation Voters, LIUNA, and the Virginia Firefighters - (IAFF), to name just a few of the groups to whom I am profoundly grateful.”
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