by Kali Schumitz
Leesburg attorney Jennifer Wexton, a Democrat, handily won a special election for Senate District 33 Tuesday.
She will take over the vacant seat formerly held by Mark Herring, who was elected attorney general following a recount in December. The 33rd District includes portions of Herndon, Oak Hill and Chantilly, as well as eastern Loudoun County.
Wexton won almost 53 percent of votes, with Republican John Whitbeck receiving 37.5 percent and former Republican state Del. Joe May, who ran as an independent after failing to secure his party’s nomination, receiving almost 10 percent of votes.
“While I wish tonight’s outcome had been different I have enjoyed the opportunity to tour the 33rd senate district and to have met so many enthusiastic people in this truly unique campaign,” May said in a statement posted on his Facebook page. “I congratulate Jennifer Wexton on her victory and hope that she carries on the bipartisan record of now Attorney General Mark Herring, who I was pleased to work with on many occasions from across the aisle.”
Speaking on what her decisive victory tells her about her Northern Virginia constituency, Wexton said, “They’re sick of divisive and extreme politics. They want to send someone to Richmond who will work across the aisle on common sense solutions – transportation, schools, the economy.”
Despite snow and frigid temperatures, 18 percent of registered voters in the Fairfax County portion of the district cast their ballots Tuesday. Wexton won nearly 61 percent of the votes in the 11 western Fairfax County precincts.
“We are delighted that we will have Sen. Wexton representing us in the Herndon and [Chantilly] area. I know that Jennifer will continue the Mark Herring tradition of fighting for women’s rights, and advocating for fairness and equality in the State Senate,” Sue Langley, chairwoman of the Fairfax County Democratic Committee said in a released statement.
Wexton’s win makes it possible for the Democrats to take more control of the evenly divided Virginia Senate, given that the lieutenant governor, now a Democrat, can cast a tie-breaking vote on non-budgetary matters.
However, the outcome depends on the results of a recount from another special election in southeastern Virginia, where Democrat Lynwood Lewis Jr. leads Republican Wayne Coleman by just 9 votes. That recount is scheduled to take place on Monday.
Loudoun Times-Mirror Staff Writer Trevor Baratako contributed to this report.