While much of the media's attention has been focused on Democrats taking back control of Virginia's House of Delegates, Republicans in the commonwealth scored an unanticipated upset victory in the state Senate.
In a race that was too close to call Tuesday night, former county sheriff and GOP candidate Danny Diggs ultimately prevailed on Wednesday over incumbent Democratic State Sen. T. Monty Mason to win Virginia's 24th District Senate seat, the Washington Examiner reported.
That unexpected victory, however, was not enough to help Republicans seize control of the Virginia Senate in the same way that Democrats gained a majority in the lower House.
Local ABC affiliate WVEC reported that Diggs, who served as the York-Poquoson sheriff for more than 20 years, was declared the winner of the 24th Senate District race in Virginia on Wednesday with 51% of the vote over the 49% garnered by incumbent State Sen. Mason, who previously served two terms in the House before being elected to the Senate in 2016.
As of Wednesday afternoon, with more than 90% of precincts reporting, Diggs had 33,561 votes compared to 31,877 votes for Mason, and though there are reportedly still several hundred provisional and mail-in ballots still to be counted, it is believed that there are not enough left to alter the outcome.
"For those of you who voted for me, I am eternally grateful for your trust," Diggs said in a statement after the race was called in his favor. "As Sheriff, I worked for everyone, not just the individuals who got me elected. And for those of you who did not support me, know that I will advocate and fight for you. I cannot wait to get to work to cut taxes, put parents first, and make our community safer!"
Local media outlet WAVY reported that State Sen. Mason conceded the race and commended his opponent in a statement on Wednesday, and said, "Yesterday, the voters of Senate District 24 spoke and they chose a new state senator.”
"For the last 10 years, it has been the honor of my lifetime to serve the people of the Peninsula," he continued. "During my time as a delegate and state senator, I’m proud to have worked hard every day to better the lives of all Virginians, especially vulnerable communities like children, seniors, veterans and the mentally ill."
The outgoing senator added, "I congratulate Mr. Diggs on a hard-fought win and wish him the best of luck in his service to the people of the 24th District. We have our differences, but I believe in my heart that he wants what is best for his community -- just like I have for the last 10 years, and will continue to every day in the future."
Diggs, when asked by a WAVY reporter for his thoughts on the race, replied, "Thank God for being with me," and then joked to the journalist, "Hey, I know what you’re looking for -- there’s a new sheriff in town."
The Virginian-Pilot reported that the 24th Senate District race had been among the closest watched in all of the state and featured substantial fundraising in support of both candidates, with Diggs raising just over $5 million while Mason brought in just shy of $4 million for their respective campaigns.
The former sheriff, who resigned that position in order to run for the state Senate, campaigned on a platform of cracking down on crime, cutting taxes, and limiting abortions to no later than 15 weeks, with the usual exceptions for incest, rape, and the health of the mother.
Mason, who other outlets reported portrayed himself as moderate in search of bipartisan agreement, ran on a decidedly Democratic platform of protecting abortion rights, increasing funding for public education, and imposing more gun control on Virginians.
The Examiner noted that Diggs had been endorsed by Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin and a number of local elected officials while Mason had drawn the endorsements of the commonwealth's Democratic delegation to Washington D.C. along with pro-abortion groups like the Human Rights Campaign and Planned Parenthood as well as various anti-gun organizations.