Democrats Just Swept Into Full Control of Virginia’s Government

Republicans lost the state House and Senate.

AP Photo/Steve Helber

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.

For the first time in more than two decades, Democrats now have full control of Virginia’s state government. According to projections, Democratic candidates have won enough seats in the state Senate and the House of Delegates for majority control of the state’s legislature.

Virginia’s off-off-year state elections drew an unprecedented amount of national attention—and money—as Democratic fundraisers and national progressive groups seized upon the opportunity to flip the Virginia legislature. After the gains Democrats made in the state in 2017, Republicans held only a slim majority in both the state Senate and House. And, thanks to redrawn district maps that favored Democrats in several key districts, that majority was under serious threat, even after a trio of scandals involving the state’s Democratic governor, lieutenant governor, and attorney general.

Democrats needed only one seat to flip the state’s Senate, which they clinched with John Bell defeating Geary Higgins in District 13, a seat vacated by the retiring Sen. Richard H. Black. In the state’s House of Delegates, Democrats won the three they needed to gain control, with wins in District 76, where Clinton Jenkins defeated the incumbent Chris Jones, as well as in District 94, where Shelly Simonds—who lost in 2017 in race that was decided by a coin flip—defeated incumbent David Yancey.

The debate over strengthening the state’s gun control laws was at the center of Virginia’s elections. In the wake of the mass shooting in Virginia Beach in May, in which a disgruntled city employee entered a municipal building and killed 12 people, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam convened a special legislative session for the sole purpose of passing new gun control measures. But the GOP majority, led by House Speaker Kirk Cox, voted to end the session after just 90 minutes—without passing any bills. In the weeks leading up to the election, polls showed that gun control was the leading issue for voters, and Democrats seized on it as a central aspect of their messaging. The national gun reform group Every Town For Gun Safety and its sister organization, Moms Demand Action, spent $2.5 million to support Democratic candidates in the state. 

With the Democrats now in full control of Virginia government, they are finally in a position to push forward several pieces of progressive legislation that’s been held up for years by Republicans. In addition to tougher gun regulations, Democrats hope to enact workplace and housing protections for LGBTQ residents, and a higher minimum wage. 

A BETTER WAY TO DO THIS?

We have an ambitious $350,000 online fundraising goal this month and we can't afford to come up short. But when a reader recently asked how being a nonprofit makes Mother Jones different from other news organizations, we realized we needed to lay this out better: Because "in absolutely every way" is essentially the answer.

So we tried to explain why your year-end donations are so essential, and we'd like your help refining our pitch about what make Mother Jones valuable and worth reading to you.

We'd also like your support of our journalism with a year-end donation if you can right now—all online gifts will be doubled until we hit our $350,000 goal thanks to an incredibly generous donor's matching gift pledge.

payment methods

A BETTER WAY TO DO THIS?

We have an ambitious $350,000 online fundraising goal this month and we can't afford to come up short. But when a reader recently asked how being a nonprofit makes Mother Jones different from other news organizations, we realized we needed to lay this out better: Because "in absolutely every way" is essentially the answer.

So we tried to explain why your year-end donations are so essential, and we'd like your help refining our pitch about what make Mother Jones valuable and worth reading to you.

We'd also like your support of our journalism with a year-end donation if you can right now—all online gifts will be doubled until we hit our $350,000 goal thanks to an incredibly generous donor's matching gift pledge.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate