Her 2017 run for the Virginia House of Delegates ended in heartbreak, with her losing a random-chance draw out of a bowl after she tied her opponent with 11,607 votes apiece.
This time, there was little drama for Shelly Simonds.
Ms. Simonds, a Democrat, handily won her seat in Virginia’s 94th District on Tuesday, flipping the seat of David Yancey, the Republican incumbent whose name was chosen out of the bowl, by a tally of 58 percent to 40 percent. Her victory contributed to a major Democratic shift in Virginia, with the party winning majorities of both chambers of the legislature to support the Democratic governor.
“We’re going to have some change in Newport News, that’s for sure,” she told supporters Tuesday night. “I think we’re going to have change in Richmond, too.”
Ms. Simonds, a Newport News school board member, found herself at the center of an unexpectedly dramatic race in 2017, which made national headlines for both its spectacle and its political significance.
To many, it was a cautionary tale on why every vote counts. At one point, Ms. Simonds seemed to have won by one vote after a recount, but the victory lasted just one day before a three-judge recount court added a vote for Mr. Yancey, putting them at a tie again.
The election was settled when each candidate’s name was written on strips of paper and placed in old 35-millimeter film canisters that were put inside a bowl. After the canisters were mixed together, an official of the Virginia State Board of Elections pulled one out, and Mr. Yancey’s name was revealed to a throng of cameras.
The tension was heightened by the enormous stakes. A victory for Ms. Simonds would have delivered Democrats an end to 17 years of Republican control by deadlocking the House at 50-50. Instead, Republicans maintained their edge with a 51-to-49 advantage.
Democrats were aided this time by a court-ordered remapping of voting districts, tilting the 94th District toward Democrats. In June, the United States Supreme Court upheld a lower court decision that struck down parts of the map on race-discrimination grounds, and the maps were redrawn to more evenly distribute black voters.
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