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Virginia House Speaker Kirk Cox holds onto his seat in tight race, despite party losing the majority

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Virginia Speaker of the House Kirk Cox held onto his seat after being redrawn into a Democratic district, but he will lose his role as House speaker as Democrats have claimed a majority in the chamber.

Cox, R-Colonial Heights, received about 51.5 percent of the vote with 96 percent of precincts reporting in Tuesday’s election. His Democratic challenger, Sheila Bynum-Coleman, received 47.2 and Independent candidate Linnard Harris received 1.2 percent of the vote.

Cox’s district, House District 66, previously had a 25.5 point Republican advantage, but shifted by 32 points earlier this year toward a 6.5 point Democrat advantage after redistricting. A court had ruled that the lines had been racially gerrymandered in violation of the Constitution.

In a statement, Cox congratulated winners on both sides of the aisle, but praised the work of the House of Delegates under Republican leadership.

“I am deeply proud of what the House of Delegates has accomplished during the last two decades,” Cox said. “We balanced the budget, protected our AAA bond-rating through a major recession, passed four teacher pay raises in six years, froze college tuition, made major reforms to our transportation system, secured our state’s pension system for the future, and guided Virginia to the nation’s top state for business.”

Democrats also won the Virginia Senate. This is the first time in 25 years that Democrats have controlled the state legislature.