After last week’s election, Virginia “Democrats won control of both houses of the General Assembly in this year’s election, with a 51-49 edge in the House and a 21-19 advantage in the Senate,” per local news outlet, WAVY 10.
It’s a blast from the past for Virginia because the scenario where a Republican governor who’s forced to work “with a fully Democratic legislature” hasn’t occurred since the 1990s.
In a statement, the Virginia Black Legislative Caucus said “[t]he Democratic majorities were won on reproductive freedom with women, Black voters, and workers playing a critical role in ensuring those elected got across the finish line. Black women are the backbone of our democracy and representation matters.”
Former Virginia Governor Doug Wilder, the first Black person in the U.S. to be elected as a state governor, said, “I’m continually proud of the people of Virginia who continue to show the rest of the nation that we judge people by character and not by color.”
But even though Democrats have attained majority representation, it doesn’t mean complete control. Because without a supermajority, they will be unable to “override vetoes and enact new laws over Youngkin’s opposition.”
This victory does mean that the Democrats will be “depriving the Republican governor, Glenn Youngkin, of the opportunity to enact a 15-week abortion ban,” The Guardian reports.
Executive director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia Jamie Lockhart stated, “Our victory on Tuesday allows us to work with these majorities to advance a constitutional amendment that will be on Virginia’s ballot in 2026 when we keep an abortion-rights majority in 2025.”
In addition, Black leaders are making groundbreaking strides in state leadership.
For the first time ever in the history of Virginia, a Black legislator will be the next speaker for the House of Delegates. Delegate Don Scott’s new role means this is “the first time Black lawmakers will run both chambers of Virginia’s General Assembly. Lt. Governor Winsome Earle-Sears, the first Black woman elected to statewide office, presides over the state Senate.” State Senator Mamie E. Locke, a Black woman, will be the Democratic Caucus Chair.
Some political pundits predict that this will have an outsized impact on next year’s election cycle. The Democratic National Committee (DNC) called it “a huge sign of Democrats’ continued momentum heading into 2024.”
Del. Scott said, “I think this is a message that President Biden can take forward,” adding “He’s won Virginia before. He’ll win Virginia again.”