VA Dems Take Control of Senate, House; Central VA Incumbents Stay in Place
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Virginia Democrats are taking full control of the statehouse for the first time in more than two decades.
This is the third election in a row that Virginia Democrats have made significant gains since President Donald Trump was elected. The win will give Democrats control of the legislature and governorship for the first time in 26 years.
On Election Night, Virginia Democrats flipped five seats in the House of Delegates and two in the State Senate. Republicans had a slim majority in both chambers leading into Tuesday night.
Now, Democrats in the state have control of the governorship, lieutenant governorship, the state attorney general and now the General Assembly.
"Virginia doesn't trade party control in the legislation very often,” said Larry Sabato, University of Virginia Center for Politics Director. “In fact, it's only happened once in my lifetime which was in the 1990s when the Republicans took over the House and Senate, so this would only be the second turnover, party turnover of the General Assembly in the 20th and this piece of the 21st century, so that's pretty remarkable if it happens."
Democrats have promised to take action on issues Republicans have blocked in the past, including passing stricter gun laws, raising the minimum wage and ratifying the equal rights amendment. Republicans have warned of higher taxes and virtually no restrictions on third-trimester abortions if they lose the majority.
While the rest of Virginia saw major power shifts, central Virginia saw little change on Election Night.
Incumbent Senator Bryce Reeves will once again Virginia’s 17th District. Reeves, who’s held the position since 2008, won with nearly 52% of the votes over his Democratic challenger Amy Laufer.
Democrat Creigh Deeds will keep his seat for Virginia’s 25th Senate District after defeating attorney Elliott Harding. He has served as state senator since 2001 and says he still has work to do to improve the accessibility of mental health care in Virginia.
Republican incumbent Rob Bell will keep his seat for Virginia’s 58th House District. The Associated Press has called the race for the UVA graduate and former prosecutor who has held the position since 2002. Bell won the race over retired dentist and business owner Elizabeth Alcorn.
NBC29 will continue to watch the races get called and see what happens with the General Assembly power struggle.
DPVA Chair Susan Swecker Statement on Democratic Victory:
RICHMOND, VA - Democratic Party of Virginia Chairwoman Susan Swecker issued the following statement on the 2019 election results:
"Tonight,Virginia Democrats have once again made history. Starting this January, for the first time in decades, Democrats will control the House, Senate, and the Governor’s Office.
This landmark victory is a tribute to our candidates, their commitment to the issues that matter, and the work of a strong Democratic Party of Virginia and our partners. And most importantly, we owe this vicictory to the people of Virginia, who with their votes spoke loudly and clearly in placing control of the House and Senate into Democratic hands. Virginia voters made it clear that the time is now for common-sense gun violence prevention, a raise in the minimum wage, the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment and all the progressive reforms we campaigned so hard on this year.
Our thanks go to the countless volunteers and party activists whose dedication and hard work made tonight’s victories possible. We have demonstrated to state parties across this nation how to win elections and now our candidates will reward Virginians’ trust by making our Commonwealth ever stronger, safer and fairer."
Governor Northam Statement on Sweeping Democratic Victories in Virginia:
“Tonight, the ground has shifted in Virginia government. The voters have spoken, and they have elected landmark Democratic majorities in both the Senate and the House of Delegates. I am proud of my fellow Democrats and inspired by our shared victory.
“Since I took office two years ago, we have made historic progress as a Commonwealth. Tonight, Virginians made it clear they want us to continue building on that progress.
“They want us to defend the rights of women, LGBTQ Virginians, immigrant communities, and communities of color. They want us to increase access to a world-class education for every child, and make sure no one is forced to go bankrupt because they or a family member gets sick. They want us to invest in clean energy and take bold action to combat climate change. And they want us to finally pass commonsense gun safety legislation, so no one has to fear being hurt or killed while at school, at work, or at their place of worship.
“I look forward to working with our new Democratic majority to make these priorities a reality. Together, we will build a stronger, more inclusive, and more just Commonwealth.”
Virginia House of Delegates Speaker Kirk Cox issued the following statement on the results of tonight's elections.
"The voters of the Commonwealth of Virginia today carried on a 400-year-old tradition in representative government. As we have done since 1619, people across Virginia cast ballots to decide who would represent them in the oldest continuously-elected lawmaking body in the New World.
"I congratulate those who were elected and re-elected to the House of Delegates tonight. When the House convenes in January, we will welcome new members on both sides of the aisle, and, for the first time in two decades, a new party will sit in the majority.
"When Republicans took the majority 20 years ago, we preserved proportional representation on committees and sought to treat our colleagues with the respect that should be afforded to all equal members in an institution as revered and esteemed as the House. I hope and pray those traditions continue regardless of who wields power in the years to come.
"I am deeply proud of what the House of Delegates has accomplished during the last two decades. We balanced the budget, protected our AAA bond-rating through a major recession, passed four teacher pay raises in six years, froze college tuition, made major reforms to our transportation system, secured our state's pension system for the future, and guided Virginia to the nation's top state for business.
"Those results did not happen by accident, and they are not guaranteed to continue. The course set by the next General Assembly will affect the lives of millions for years to come.
"Representative democracy began in Virginia 400 years ago, but it does not end tonight. Voters will have the opportunity soon to judge those elected based on their policies and results, not just promises and rhetoric of campaign season. Until then, Republicans will work with Democrats where we can, speak out against overreaching policies when we must, and always seek to guard the best interests of the people of the Commonwealth of Virginia. It is my sincere prayer that God will continue to bless our great Commonwealth."