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Democrat Richard “Rip” Sullivan won a solid majority in a special election Tuesday to become the next delegate representing the 48th District in the Virginia House of Delegates.

Sullivan, an attorney and Fairfax County Park Authority Board member, replaces longtime Del. Bob Brink (D), who resigned his seat to take an appointed position at a state agency. The 48th District includes portions of Arlington and McLean.

Sullivan won about 62 percent of the vote over Republican Dave Foster, a former chairman of the Arlington County School Board.

Medicaid expansion was a major point of contention between the two candidates, with Sullivan favoring immediate expansion of the program to access available federal funds and Foster seeking a compromise that would include reforms of the current program.

Sullivan also campaigned heavily on environmental issues, supporting thing like energy efficiency standards for utility companies and tax credits for businesses and individuals that install solar or wind energy systems.

Elsewhere in the state, Republicans strengthened their control of the Virginia Senate, securing a southwest Virginia Senate seat that was previously held by a Democrat. Del. Ben Chafin (R-Dist. 4) won more than 60 percent of the vote over Democrat Mike Hymes, a coal company executive.

The Senate had been evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats since the last statewide Senate elections in 2011.

Earlier this year, Democratic Sen. Phil Puckett resigned his seat in a controversial move that allowed Republicans to take control of the chamber with a 20-19 majority and break a budget stalemate between the House, Senate and Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D).

Republicans will now hold a 21-19 majority.

In the Norfolk area, attorney Joe Lindsey easy won a House of Delegates seat in the heavily Democratic 90th District.

kschumitz@fairfaxtimes.com