Saturday, May 28, 2022

Simonds goes to court over contested Newport News house seat

Shelly Simonds won election to the House of Delegates by one vote, the Newport News Board of Elections said Tuesday.
Attorneys for Shelly Simonds have asked the circuit court in Newport News to reconsider its decision declaring a contested house race a tie.

Just one day before the state Board of Elections is set to decide the winner of the 94th House of Delegates district race by drawing lots, Democratic contender Shelly Simonds is taking the fight to court.

On Wednesday, the state Board of Elections is slated to determine a winner of the race between Shelly Simonds (D-Newport News) and Del. David Yancey (R-Newport News). A three-judge panel in Newport News circuit court declared the race a tie on Dec. 20.

Simonds had been declared the winner by the city’s board of elections on Dec. 19, after a recount.

On Tuesday, lawyers for Simonds asked the court to reconsider its decisions about the race, saying they were “manifestly unjust,” and suspend its order certifying the vote.

During a press call Tuesday afternoon, Simonds said she stands by the result of the recount.

“It was a fair process guided by rules,” she said.

Ezra Reese, an attorney for Simonds, said during the call the court was wrong to have considered a challenge to the ballot which made the election a tie.

Still, with the court closed Tuesday for the Christmas holiday, the legal maneuvering cast further uncertainty on the outcome of the race, including the balance of power in the House of Delegates.

“We have emailed the parties, the judges, and their clerks, but technically it will not be on file until the court opens in the morning,” Jonathan Berkon, an attorney for Simonds at Perkins Coie, said in an interview. “We’re at the mercy of the holiday.”
 
The court reopens Wednesday at 8 a.m., according to a recorded phone message in the clerk’s office.
 
The House Republican Caucus released a statement Tuesday afternoon, saying the caucus is reviewing Simonds’ court papers and weighing whether to file a response.
 
“We believe the Court acted appropriately and that the integrity of the process is without question,” Parker Slaybaugh, a spokesperson, said in the statement.
 
This is a developing story. WYDaily will update it as more information becomes available. This story has been updated to include a statement from the House Republican Caucus.

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