Democrats held on to the 2nd District seat in the Virginia House of Delegates as Candi King won a narrow victory in Tuesday's special election.
With all of the district's 23 precincts in Prince William and Stafford counties reporting, King received 4,386 votes to 4,123 for Republican candidate Heather Mitchell, according to unofficial results from the Virginia Department of Elections. The margin of 263 votes was about 3 percentage points.
Mitchell won 62% of the vote in the 11 Stafford precincts, which are mostly in the northern and western parts of the county, but King won 68% of the vote in the 12 Prince William precincts, in the eastern part of the county, according to the unofficial results.
Absentee voting made up just 11.3% of the total vote, according to the results. King received nearly more 500 absentee votes than Mitchell, offsetting a deficit of about 200 votes cast in person on Tuesday.
King will replace fellow Democrat Jennifer Carroll Foy, who resigned the seat last month in order to focus on her campaign for governor. Carroll Foy first won election to the seat in 2017 and then defeated Mitchell in 2019 with 61% of the vote. Turnout in that regular election was over 19,500 votes, more than double the turnout for Tuesday's special election.
If Tuesday's results are certified, King will be sworn in to the General Assembly in time to participate in this year's session, which begins Jan. 13. She will have to run for re-election to a full two-year term in the fall, although the district lines may be redrawn in the interim if the results from the 2020 Census are available in time.
In a statement released by her campaign Tuesday night, Candi King said she is ready to hit the ground running. "This district has been hard hit by COVID-19, and I will work to ensure that no teacher, student, worker, family or small business owner is left behind as we begin to recover from this pandemic."
She said she will fight for paid sick days and paid family leave, as well as ensuring that schools have the resources they need to re-open safely "and to close the achievement gap for the children who fell behind while doing virtual learning."
According to data from the Virginia Public Access Project, King had raised $102,931 for her campaign through Dec. 24, while Mitchell had raised $27,450.
Despite that fund-raising disadvantage, House of Delegates Minority Leader Todd Gilbert noted in a statement that Mitchell closed a deficit of 22 percentage points in the 2019 race to just 3 percentage points in the special election.
“The results … should send a shudder down the spine of every Virginia Democrat,” Gilbert said.
King holds a bachelor’s degree from Norfolk State University and serves as a special needs parent advocate, volunteer at Freedom High School and member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. She and her husband live in Dumfries with their children, including a non-verbal teenage daughter with autism.
Her husband, Josh King, was defeated by Carroll Foy for the Democratic nomination for the seat in 2017 by only a dozen votes. He then narrowly lost a race for Prince William County sheriff in November 2019 to Republican incumbent Glendell Hill.
Mitchell, who lives in Stafford, is the spouse of an active duty prior-enlisted Marine Corps officer and has three children. She previously worked as an aide to Prince William Board of County Supervisors Chair Corey Stewart.