Democrats flipped the Virginia state Senate in Tuesday’s elections, but control of the state’s House of Delegates is yet to be determined.
A flip for both chambers to Democrats would give the party control of both the legislative branch for the remainder of Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam’s term.
Democrats have won 21 of the state’s 40 Senate seats and lead in one yet to be called race, while Republicans won 16 seats and lead in 2 others.
If the House also flips, the lawmakers along with Northam are expected to push forward on priorities like strengthening gun control laws and loosening abortion restrictions. Democrats would have full control over redistricting after the 2020 Census and would likely move forward on restoring voting rights to felons, a policy that former Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe championed but Republicans partially blocked.
Going into Election Day, Republicans had a 51-48 majority in the House of Delegates and a 20-19 majority in the state Senate, with each chamber having one vacancy.
Huge sums of cash flooded the Virginia races, which has no limit on campaign contributions, in the final weeks of the campaign cycle.
In a Senate district outside of Richmond, Republican incumbent Sen. Siobhan Dunnavant and Democratic challenger Del. Debra Rodman each raised more than $2.5 million by the end of October. Rodman was leading Dunnavant 53% to 48% with 90% of precincts reporting as of 9:28 p.m.
The Democratic National Committee made a “six-figure investment” in a coordinated campaign of 108 staff members to knock doors and make phone calls in support of their candidates, resulting in over 400,000, the party said Tuesday.
Democrats were eager to flip the House after control of the chamber as a result of the 2017 elections came down to a close race decided by a name drawn out of a bowl, giving Republicans a 51-49 majority rather than splitting the chamber 50-50.
The Democrat who lost that draw, Shelly Simonds, again challenged Republican incumbent David Yancey this cycle in a district encompassing part of the city of Newport News, and easily defeated Yancey by double digits in Tuesday’s election.
“If you ever wonder whether every vote counts, talk to Shelly,” DNC chair Tom Perez told reporters at the party’s Washington, D.C. headquarters on Tuesday after making a few phone calls to turn out Democratic voters in Virginia. “I describe 2019 in Virginia as continuing and completing the work of taking back the majority.”