Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s dream of finishing out his final two years in office with Republican legislative control in Richmond was dashed Tuesday.
Democrats succesfully defended their slim majority in the state Senate, according to the Associated Press, which said control of the House was still too close to call.
However the Democrats weren’t so reticent, claiming late Tuesday to have flipped the House of Delegates.
“The blue brick wall in Virginia stands,” Susan Swecker, chairwoman of the Democratic Party of Virginia, said in a statement. “Voters across Virginia voted for leadership that will protect their abortion rights, keep guns out of the wrong hands, and lower costs for Virginia’s families.”
Democrats emerged victorious in competitive races for Senate and House seats in Northern Virginia, the Richmond suburbs and Hampton Roads, where their candidates ran against Mr. Youngkin’s embrace of a proposed 15-week abortion ban that included exceptions for cases of rape, incest and the life of the mother. Virginia limits abortion at 26 weeks gestation.
Mr. Youngkin was not on the ballot but happily made the race a referendum on the record he compiled over his first two years in office, and what could be done to advance conservative policies if voters handed Republicans control of the state legislature.
He touted his record on crime, tax cuts, education and empowering parents, but his political coattails proved to be shorter than he hoped.
Democrats heralded the results as the death knell to Mr. Youngkin’s presidential ambitions, a huge blow to the “extreme” GOP agenda, and a victory for fundamental individual freedoms.
“Youngkin will never be president,” said Abhi Rahman, spokesman for the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee. “Access to an abortion was on the line in Virginia. Virginians proved that Republicans’ message to voters is not resonating.”
“The electorate wants Democrats to lead,” he said.
The off-year elections in Virginia, Kentucky, Ohio and elsewhere are the latest barometer for the political climate as both major parties turn their full attention to the 2024 presidential race.
Overall, it was a tough night for Republicans.
Voters in Virginia and other states signaled the GOP has yet to find the policy sweet spot on abortion following the Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade, which had established abortion as afederal constitutional right in 1973.
In two solidly-red states, voters Tuesday delievered victories for abortion rights, giving a second term to Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear, a Democrat, and amending the Ohio state constitution to enshrine the right to an abortion and other reproductive health care.
For Democrats, it was a reason to breathe a sigh of relief.
The elections came on the heels of polls that have shown President Biden trails former President Trump in a hypothetical rematch and has fallen out of favor with most Americans. Much of the public disapproves of his performance and believes he is too old to serve another four years as president.
Mr. Biden’s campaign said Democrats “won because they ran on standing up for personal freedoms, defending democracy, and fighting for working families” and said, “voters across the political spectrum … rejected the dangerous MAGA extremism that has come to define today’s Republican Party at every level.”
“In hundreds of races since Donald Trump’s conservative Supreme Court appointments overturned Roe v. Wade, we’ve seen Americans overwhelmingly side with President Biden and Democrats’ vision for this country,” the campaign said. “That same choice will be before voters again next November, and we are confident the American people will send President Biden and Vice President Harris back to the White House to keep working for them.”