The Collegian
Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Democrats retake both chambers of the Virginia General Assembly, Youngkin responds

Democrats have gained control of both chambers of the Virginia General Assembly after gains in the House of Delegates in Tuesday’s elections. Democrats have reached the threshold of 51 seats to take control of the House chamber and have reached the 21 seats needed to retain control of the Senate

“This is a critical victory for health care access and the future of abortion rights in our commonwealth,” Jamie Lockhart, the executive director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia wrote in a press release on Tuesday night. “We look forward to working with all of our allies in the General Assembly who will boldly champion Virginians’ reproductive freedom next legislative session.”

Democrats have a net gain of five seats, winning 51 seats in the House so far, expanding on the 46 seats that they held before the elections. 

Notable Democratic wins include House District 58, where incumbent Democrat Del. Rodney Willett successfully fended off his Republican challenger, Riley Shaia. In House District 97, Democrat Michael Feggans flipped the seat, defeating incumbent Republican Del. Karen Greenhalgh. 

In the Senate, one incumbent lost their seat in the election: incumbent state Sen. Siobhan Dunnavant was ousted by Democrat Del. Schuyler VanValkenburg, ‘04, in the 16th Senate district. Incumbent Sen. Monty Mason, a Democrat, lost his seat to Republican Danny Diggs in the 24th Senate district. 

The result marks a major blow to Gov. Glenn Youngkin, whose “Secure Your Vote” campaign hoped to secure a Republican trifecta in the state government. It will also present a barrier to Gov. Youngkin’s proposed 15-week abortion ban, with Democrats blocking abortion restrictions through their senate majority in the past.

Gov. Youngkin held a press briefing this afternoon. “I’m a little disappointed,” he said. 

About 36% of the General Assembly will be new to the chamber, Gov. Youngkin said. 

“I look forward to working with the House and the Senate going forward just like we have,” Youngkin said. Virginia is a state that is comfortable working across party lines to get things done, he said. “That’s exactly what we have done over the course of the last two years, where we have worked with a legislature that has had divided government, and we’re going to continue to do this.”  

The loss also upended speculation about Gov. Youngkin’s presidential ambitions. Gov. Youngkin will now have to spend the rest of his two-year term with Democratic majorities in both chambers of the Virginia legislature instead of elevating his national profile by easily pursuing policies with a Republican trifecta. 

When asked about any presidential ambitions, Gov. Youngkin said, “I am focused on Virginia. I have been in Virginia … I am in Virginia, and I look forward to staying focused on Virginia just like I have been.”

Contact city & state editor Nick Mossman at nick.mossman@richmond.edu.

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