Virginia Democrats kept the Senate and are projected to capture the House of delegates Tuesday in a blow to Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R-VA) and Republicans in Virginia – and beyond, hoping to fight the state’s two-decade lurch towards the Democrat Party.
Republicans captured the House of delegates along with the governorship two years ago, but new district maps inserted additional uncertainty into this year’s elections.
Youngkin’s gubernatorial victory particularly was seen as a potential dynamic shift in a state that has moved increasingly from purple to blue.
The governor risked significant political and personal capital in this year’s races, which have been painted as a significant test for his brand of conservatism as his national profile grows amid speculation he will run for the presidency or the Senate.
The Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee (DLCC) called the Democrat victory in the senate an “important victory that will provide a vital check on Governor Youngkin and the worst of the Republican Party’s extreme agenda.”
Republican control of the legislative branch would have provided Youngkin his only chance to showcase his brand of governance in advance of a potential run for higher office.
Younkin is unable to run again in 2026 due to Virginia’s limiting governors to one term.
Youngkin recruited, campaigned, fundraised, endorsed, and pleaded in his attempt to flip the Senate and keep the House of delegates.
The governor’s team touted going ten for ten with his preferred candidates in contested primaries and caucuses.
Youngkin appears to have hit on only about half of those ten races with some not yet called.
Additionally, State Sen. Siobhan Dunnavant, a Youngkin ally, went down to Democrat challenger Schuyler VanValkenburg. In a Loudon County area district, Republican Juan Pablo Segura also was defeated by Democrat Russet Perry.
Anti-Trump donors and consultants have attempted to get Youngkin to consider entering the 2024 race, especially as Gov. Ron DeSantis continues his shocking slide since entering the race. Trump’s continued surge in the polls despite his many legal troubles, in spite of mainstream prognostications, make that unlikely.
Tonight’s results likely end the Youngkin-in-2024 speculation for good.
Trump himself loomed over this election as well, as Democrats painted not only Youngkin but Republican candidates on the ballot as “extreme MAGA” for ties to Trump.
The future of abortion rights in the aftermath of the end of Roe v. Wade, made possible only through Trump’s three nominations to the Supreme Court, played prominently in Democrat attacks as well.
Those issues were wielded effectively to counter the GOP’s efforts to make gains in suburbs.
Youngkin encouraged candidates to follow his lead on both Trump and abortion rights. He has insisted Biden legitimately won the 2020 election and proposed a fifteen-week abortion ban in Virginia with exceptions for rape, incest, and to protect the life of the mother.
DLCC Interim President Heather Williams said, “Democrats’ message of protecting fundamental freedoms resonated with voters tonight and allowed us to protect this chamber against an onslaught of spending and disinformation from Gov. Youngkin and his allies.”
Follow Bradley Jaye on Twitter at @BradleyAJaye.