Democratic Delegate Lynwood W. Lewis Jr. held a paper-thin lead Tuesday over Republican rival B. Wayne Coleman in a special election to succeed Lt. Gov.-elect Ralph Northam in the Virginia Senate.
With more than 97 percent of the vote counted, unofficial State Board of Elections results showed Lewis held less than a 25-vote edge over Coleman out of more than 20,000 ballots cast in Virginia's 6th Senate District, which includes parts of Norfolk and the Eastern Shore.
The narrow margin leaves the door open to a recount for Coleman, a Norfolk businessman and political newcomer.
The SBE scheduled a meeting Wednesday in Richmond on the special election.
The Democrats need a win in this race and in another special election Jan. 21 in northern Virginia to succeed Attorney General-elect Mark Herring to maintain a 40-40 split in the Senate.
As lieutenant governor, Democrat Northam casts the tie-breaking vote in the Senate. Republicans hold a solid majority in the House of Delegates.
In another special election Tuesday, Democrat Sam Rasoul defeated by a better than 2-1 ratio Republican Octavia L. Johnson in Roanoke's House District 11. Del. Onzlee Ware, a Democrat, decided to resign the seat after winning in November, citing his mother's health.
The election for Northam's Senate seat is the second high-drama race in the state since November. Herring defeated fellow state Sen. Mark Obenshain in what was, on election night, the closest statewide race in modern Virginia political history. A recount widened Herring's lead.
Three candidates are vying for Herring's seat: Republican John Whitbeck, Democrat Jennifer Wexton and state Del. Joe T. May, who is running as an independent candidate.
The 33rd Senate District includes parts of Fairfax and Loudoun counties.