Virginia Verifying Votes While Gillespie Decides Next Move in Senate Race

WASHINGTON – It will take a few more days to get the situation straightened out but one thing’s for sure: Republican Ed Gillespie waged a surprisingly effective race against incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Warner in Virginia and he may still emerge victorious, an outcome that would give the GOP at least 54 seats out of 100 in the upper chamber.

While no official action has been taken, the contest is almost sure to result in a recount. With 99.9 percent of the state’s precincts voting, Warner maintains a razor-thin lead of fewer than 17,000 out of almost 2.2 million ballots cast. The results show Warner, seeking a second six-year term, with 1,071,283, or 49.2 percent of the vote while Gillespie, a former aide to President George W. Bush and onetime chairman of the Republican National Committee has 1,054,556, or 48.4 percent.

Under Virginia state law, a candidate who is behind after all the votes are counted can request a recount if the margin is one percent or less of the total cast. The current tally is within that margin and Gillespie now has until Nov. 14 to make his request.

In the meantime, the Virginia State Board of Elections is conducting a re-canvass to verify the unofficial results released by Virginia Department of Elections.

“Now we owe it to the voters of Virginia to respect the canvassing process that is underway to get an official result,” Gillespie said in a statement Wednesday. “We will be watching the results closely so that we can ensure Virginians have confidence in the accuracy of the results.”

Gillespie added that he will “respect the decision reached by Virginia’s voters.”

Warner, who posits himself as a pro-business, moderate Democrat, declared victory Tuesday night, acknowledging the outcome was much closer than he anticipated. Gillespie, meanwhile, has not conceded and is pondering his next move.

“It was a hard-fought race,” said Warner, who trailed most of the evening. “I’ll go back to Washington and recognize we’ve got to find that common ground” in a Senate about to be controlled by Republicans.

Warner told supporters he’s willing to work with any lawmaker “to make sure we get our country’s problems fixed.”