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Republicans take over Virginia Senate after winning special election

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A special election in the state of Virginia’s 38th District Senate race on Tuesday gave control of the Virginia Senate to Republicans. GOP candidate Ben Chafin Jr. destroyed Democratic challenger Mike Hymes by 28 points in a crucial special election.

Hymes was defending the seat vacated by fellow Democrat Sen. Phillip Puckett who resigned in June. The defeat is seen as a major Republican victory in the state governed by former Clinton aide and Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe.

The Republican victory in Virginia means the Republican Party has control of the state Senate as well as the General Assembly, leaving McAuliffe without a Democratic legislative body to approve his Democratic agenda.

With 100 percent of the 159 district precincts reporting, unofficial results of the election had Chafin receiving 17,440 votes (60 percent) to Hymes’ 9,264 (32 percent), according to Virginia Board of Elections, according to The Southwest Times report published Sunday.

The election was yet another blow to Democrats who are not doing well in holding onto and taking over state legislatures. Independent candidate Rick Mullins took 2,512 votes, or 9 percent, which means his campaign did not significantly affect the outcome of the election.

However, Mullins defeated both Chafin and Hymes in his home county of Dickenson where he received 39 percent of the votes to Chafin’s 36 percent and Hymes’ 25 percent.

After Puckett’s resignation from the 38th District effectively stalemated the Virginia Senate, the Democrat became the subject of an FBI investigation over a job offered him by the Virginia Tobacco Commission. Puckett said he resigned his Senate seat because of undisclosed personal family issues. He also reportedly resigned to facilitate an opportunity for his daughter to receive a judgeship in Russell County.

After Tuesday’s Democratic defeat in Virginia, Republicans control 21 seats in the Senate, while Democrats control 19 in addition to Republicans controlling the House of Delegates.

Puckett had represented the 38th District since 1999. The 38 district includes Pulaski County, as well as Bland, Buchanan, Dickerson, Russell and Tazewell, parts of Montgomery, Smyth and Wise counties and the cities of Norton and Radford.

Democrats hoped to expand Obamacare by implementing Medicaid expansions in the state’s budget. However, Virginians effectively rejected the Democrats' entitlement Medicaid expansion proposal by giving Chafin their overwhelming support at the ballot.

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