Democrats have taken control of Virginia’s General Assembly for the first time in two decades

RICHMOND, Va. -- Virginia Democrats on Tuesday captured control of the state's General Assembly for the first time in two decades in an off-year election that drew national attention and massive amounts of funding from out-of-state groups.

On Election Day, Virginia was the only state in the country where control of the state legislature was on the line, with Republicans holding slim majorities in the state's House and Senate.

With Democratic Governor Ralph Northam in office for the next two years, the wins give the Democrats full control of the state's government for the first time in 26 years.

In Central Virginia, Ghazala Hashmi’s (D) defeat of incumbent Sen. Glen Sturtevant (R) helped pave the way to victory for Senate Democrats.

"This victory is not mine alone. It belongs to all of you who believed that we need to make a progressive change here in Virginia," Hashmi said on stage Tuesday night.

In Senate Districts 11 and 12, incumbent Republicans Sen. Amanda Chase (SD 11) and Sen. Siobhann Dunnavant (SD 12) held on to their seats, with Del. Debra Rodamn (D-Henrico) narrowly losing her challenge of Sen. Dunnavant’s seat, which encompasses portions of Hanover and Western Henrico.

House Speaker Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights) won re-election in House District 66, a district that turned competitive after being redrawn following a federal court order, over challenger Sheila Bynum-Coleman (D).

However, Cox will likely only serve one term as House Speaker after Democrats flipped at least two Senate seats to win the majority.

In 2017, Shelly Simonds (D) lost House District 94 in a tiebreaker to Del. David Yancy (R), after his name was drawn out of an ornate bowl. But on Tuesday, Simonds ousted Del. Yancy to win over the district.

Her win, coupled with losses by House Appropriation Chair Chris Jones (R) in Tidewater's 76th District, marked several of the biggest defeats for Republicans.

South of the James River, Republicans won back seats the party already controlled as seen in Del. Roxann Robinson win in House District 27. And in House District 62, the seat vacated by retiring Del. Riley Ingram (R) was reclaimed by former Chesterfield School Board member Carrie Coyner (R.)

In House Districts closer to the Richmond Metro and Henrico, Democrats won back several seats they took in the 2017 “blue wave” elections.  Del. Dawn Adams (HD 68), Del. Schuyler VanValkenburg (HD 72), and Rodney Willet (HD-73) all won seats that were heavily targeted by Republican campaign resources.

Tuesday marks the third election in a row that VA Democrats reclaimed power in since the election of President Trump in 2016.

Gov. Northam released a statement following the announcement, writing that "the ground has shifted in Virginia government."

“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," Northam wrote.

After years of finding themselves in the minority, Democrats are now the party in power throughout Virginia government and have promised to pursue an agenda of gun control policy, health care access, criminal justice reform, and increasing Virginia’s minimum wage.

Republicans, who have not won a statewide race in Virginia since Gov. Bob McDonnell in 2009, now find themselves without power in either chamber of the General Assembly in nearly a generation.

 

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