Former Sheriff Diggs pulls off unexpected GOP upset of incumbent Dem Sen. Mason in close Virginia race

 November 9, 2023

Following Tuesday's Election Day in Virginia, much of the media coverage has been focused on Democrats taking back control of the state legislature, though the party's victory was not a clean sweep.

In fact, in a race that was too close to call Tuesday night, Republican candidate Danny Diggs was declared the upset victor over incumbent Democratic State Sen. T. Monty Mason on Wednesday for Virginia's 24th District seat in the state Senate, according to the Washington Examiner.

Unfortunately for Virginia Republicans, however, that shocking victory for Diggs was not enough to flip control of the state Senate from blue to red, as Democrats conversely did in successfully flipping the lower House of Delegates from red to blue.

Diggs declared the winner

Local ABC affiliate WVEC reported that as of Wednesday afternoon, when the 51-49% race was officially called, Diggs had garnered 33,561 votes compared to Mason's 31,877 votes.

That total doesn't count provisional ballots cast on Election Day or mail-in ballots that can be received until Monday if postmarked by Election Day, and while that could represent several hundred more votes, they likely aren't enough to change the declared outcome of the race.

Diggs, a former county sheriff, congratulated Mason for running a "tough race" and said in a statement after the contest was called, "For those of you who voted for me, I am eternally grateful for your trust."

"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," he added. "I cannot wait to get to work to cut taxes, put parents first, and make our community safer!"

Mason formally concedes race

Local media outlet WAVY reported that Mason, who previously served in the state House before being elected state senator in 2016, issued a statement conceding the race once it had been officially called, 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."

"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," Mason added.

"There's a new sheriff in town"

The Virginian-Pilot reported that Diggs had previously served for more than 20 years as the elected sheriff of York County-Poquoson but resigned from that position in order to launch his campaign for the state Senate seat, and raised more than $5 million as he ran on a platform of being tough on crime, reducing the state tax burden on citizens, and tightening restrictions on abortions to no later than 15 weeks of pregnancy, with the usual exceptions.

Mason, who raised nearly $4 million for his campaign, ran on protecting and expanding abortion rights in the state, spending more tax dollars on public education, and imposing more "commonsense" gun control measures like expanded background checks and red flag confiscation laws.

In an interview with WAVY after the race was called, Diggs said, "Thank God for being with me," and joked with the reporter, "Hey, I know what you’re looking for -- there’s a new sheriff in town."

More seriously, he added, "I don’t know how I feel. You’ve seen this roller coaster tonight. We’ve been up and down all day long. This has been a long campaign. It’s been tough. Sometimes I think I’m going to lose my composure. The next minute I’m on top of the world."

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