Hair's breadth: McDonnell certified AG winner
Virginia voters flocked to the polls for the November general election more than a month ago, but for Creigh Deeds and Bob McDonnell, the nail-biting is far from over.
On Monday, November 28, Virginia's State Board of Elections certified the attorney general's results: 323 votes of the 1.9 million cast gave McDonnell the lead.
"It's a tiny, tiny percentage," says political commentator Larry Sabato. "It's far from inconceivable that the votes could be found."
That's a possibility Deeds– who currently represents Charlottesville and much of Albemarle in the sprawling 25th Senate District– is banking on when the votes are recounted on December 20.
"The difference is well below the required one-half of one percent and, in fact, is only one-hundredth of one percent," says Deeds in a press release, "which makes this the closest statewide election in the history of the Commonwealth."
Since the difference in votes is so slim, Deeds wasted no time in requesting a recount. He petitioned the Richmond City Circuit Court for one the morning following the release of the certified results. On December 9, the court set the recount date, though the recount process is still undefined.
"There are a lot of questions still out there about how this is going to be conducted," says Deeds spokesman Mark Bergman. "We're moving forward to try to get a fair and accurate recount of the votes." Bergman says the Circuit Court judges will decide which ballots can be rescanned on a locality-by-locality basis on recount day.
Because the race is so close, the state board of elections will cover the actual cost of recounting ballots, but it will still cost each candidate a pretty penny.
"McDonnell and Deeds will have to pay for legal teams to fight this thing out," says Joshua Scott, a lecturer at the University of Virginia's Center for Politics. "Lawyers will wrangle over it."
Though not without cause.
"The history of this election is already interesting," says Scott. "Creigh was actually down three or four thousand votes on election night, prior to the counting of absentee ballots.
"Personally, I'd rather be in McDonnell's shoes right now. But it's true that as the process has continued, the lead has continued to shrink," Scott adds. "No one can predict what results this recount will bring."
State Senator Creigh Deeds still has a job representing Albemarle and the rest of the 25th District.
FILE PHOTO BY JEN FARIELLO
Bob McDonnell declared himself Virginia's next attorney general when his lead was around 2,000 votes.
FILE PHOTO FROM THE MCDONNELL WEBSITE