Youngkin expresses disappointment in legislative wins by Virginia Democrats, pledges bipartisanship


RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin expressed disappointment Wednesday with election results that allowed Democrats to take control of both the Virginia House of Delegates and Senate, but pledged to work with the party’s new legislative majority on bipartisan priorities like improving the mental health care system and boosting economic development over the remainder of his term.

Youngkin struck an optimistic tone as he told reporters gathered at the foot of the Capitol steps in Richmond that the results underscored Virginia’s history of alternating between Democratic and Republican control.

“I’m a little disappointed to be clear,” he said.

“I think the No. 1 lesson is that Virginia is really purple, and that going into these elections, we knew that they were going to be tough.”

Democrats have pointed to their support for abortion rights as a winning factor in Tuesday’s election.

Youngkin did not directly answer a question about whether he thought his proposed 15-week ban with exceptions remains viable, but said he thought “there is a place to come together around a reasonable limit.”

The election results have been interpreted as a significant blow to Youngkin, who invested a great deal of time, money and political capital in the races and has been frequently mentioned as a possible late entrant into the 2024 presidential race.

When asked by reporters if he is still considering becoming a presidential candidate, Youngkin — who cannot seek a second consecutive term — reiterated his frequently stated response that he remains “focused on Virginia.”

Only one legislative race remained undecided on Wednesday afternoon: a House race south of Richmond where Republican incumbent Kim Taylor held a narrow lead over Democrat Kimberly Pope Adams. Taylor declared victory, but Adams said her campaign was waiting for every vote to be counted.

Other ultra-competitive races were called by The Associated Press Wednesday, well after it became clear Democrats had secured majorities in both chambers.

Republican Tara Durant prevailed over Democrat Joel Griffin and independent Monica Gary in a northern Virginia Senate race.

And in a Tidewater district, GOP challenger Danny Diggs — a retired longtime sheriff — defeated Democratic incumbent Monty Mason.

Democrats, who centered their message to voters around protecting abortion rights, will begin the 2024 session with a 21-19 majority in the 40-seat upper chamber, and will have at least 51 of 100 House seats.

“Governor Youngkin and Virginia Republicans did everything they could to take total control of state government, but the people of the Commonwealth rejected them,” Susan Swecker, chairwoman of the Democratic Party of Virginia, said in a statement.

Senate Republicans conceded late Tuesday that Democrats had taken that chamber’s majority. House Republicans did so Wednesday afternoon.

“Now, our Republican caucus will again assume the role of the loyal opposition, working with Governor Youngkin to hold the line against the worst left-wing impulses of the incoming Democratic majority, and ensure that common-sense ideas aren’t forgotten,” House Speaker Todd Gilbert said in a statement.

In the House, Republican David Owen defeated Democrat Susanna Gibson in a highly competitive suburban Richmond race that drew attention after revelations that Gibson engaged in sex acts with her husband on a pornographic website. But Gibson, a nurse practitioner, refused to withdraw from the race, and accused Republicans of dirty politics for exposing her conduct.

The election results see-sawed throughout the night Tuesday, but The Associated Press called the race for Owen just before 1:30 p.m. Wednesday.

All 140 General Assembly seats were on the ballot in this year’s hard-fought campaign cycle.

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