40th House District Candidates

Democrat Donte Tanner challenged incumbent Del. Tim Hugo, a Republican, for the 40th District seat in the 2017 general election.

Now that all the votes are counted, Del. Tim Hugo, R-40th District, appears to be the lone Republican in Prince William County to hold onto his seat in the House of Delegates — but Democrat Donte Tanner isn’t conceding just yet, with control of the chamber hanging in the balance. 

By the end of election night on Nov. 7, Tanner appeared to have pulled off an incredibly narrow victory over Hugo, who serves in House leadership as majority caucus chairman and has represented the district (which includes parts of western Prince William and Fairfax counties) since winning a special election in 2002. But election officials in both counties discovered dozens of votes cast for Hugo in a canvass of ballots the next day, giving the incumbent a lead of 115 votes.

On Nov. 13, officials finished tallying all provisional ballots in the race, or ballots cast by people who forgot to bring a valid photo ID to the polls on Election Day and subsequently provided identification to election officials. In all, Tanner picked up 15 additional votes to Hugo’s six, giving the Republican a 106-vote edge.

That means Hugo’s margin of victory is still less than half a percentage point, and state law dictates that any candidate on the losing end of such a tight result can request a publicly funded recount.

As of now, Tanner is planning on doing exactly that, according to campaign manager Alex Vuskovic. He’ll have until the end of the month to officially ask for a recount, but with Republicans currently holding a slim, 51-49 majority in the House following Democrats’ hugely successful night at the polls, Vuskovic expects Tanner will keep hope alive and opt for another tally of the ballots.

“We’re going to fight like hell,” Vuskovic said.

Hugo, however, is already acting as if the results are a bit more clear cut. His campaign sent out a release Nov. 10 declaring that “it is evident that Del. Tim Hugo will serve an eighth term as delegate.” 

“I will be returning to Richmond to continue what I have been doing for the past 14 years--working to improve the quality of life for my constituents who I have the honor of representing,” Hugo wrote. “Lastly, I would like to thank my opponent Donte Tanner. It is not easy being in the political arena and his willingness to participate in the democratic process should be applauded. I wish him and his family all the best.”

The State Board of Elections will meet Nov. 20 to certify each district’s results. Then, any candidate hoping for a recount will have 10 days to formally request one.

Tanner’s race is one of three Democrats are closely eyeing as they look to force a 50-50 tie in the House, or even seize control of the chamber for the first time in nearly two decades.

In Stafford County, the 28th District race between Democrat Joshua Cole and Republican Bob Thomas is separated by just 84 votes, while Del. David Yancey, R-94th District, has just a 13-vote lead over Democrat Shelly Simonds. Two other races are also within 1 percentage point, but in each one, the candidates are separated by more than 300 votes.

Once any candidate hoping for a recount officially requests one, local circuit courts will set the timelines for completing the new tally.

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