Democrats Sweep the Virginia House and Senate
A true statement but as we start this first day after the election, there are several things still in play. First, today is the day that absentee ballots are opened and counted as well as any provisional ballots that were cast (casting a vote when the voter did not have proper id or could not be located on the roles.)
Each candidate knows how many absentee ballots were filed in their districts. At last count Virginia saw a record number of absentee ballots requested, approximately 125,000 and record numbers being returned. Some analysis reports a good number were voters over the age of 60 and voters who had not voted previously.
Yesterday’s Democratic gains can be attributed to beautiful weather across our state, gun issues, environment and climate change issues and a distaste for Donald Trump.
As to Key races it appears the Democrats will hold at least a 54-46 majority in the House and a 21-19 majority in the Senate. Again, there are several House seats that are separated by a hundred votes or so, hence things could change there. No change in results is expected in the Senate.
As to the Senate:
Republicans had only one open seat in Virginia Beach
They lost an open seat in Loudoun County
They lost a Republican Senator in Chesterfield and south Richmond, Glen Sturtevant.
Early election results had Senator Dunnavant of Henrico losing and rumored to have conceded. Poll workers discovered the error, revised the results and this morning she remains ahead by roughly a thousand votes.
Colorful and controversial Joe Morrissey was elected to the 16th Senate seat (Petersburg/Richmond) as a Democrat.
As to the House:
Republicans lost House District 40 the last seat in Northern Virginia held by a Republican.
The Republican who now holds the most northern seat in the General Assembly (not counting far north west Virginia near Winchester) is Bobby Orrock in Spotsylvania (near Fredericksburg and an hour south of DC)
In the open seats, Republicans held four with wins by Carrie Coyners in House District 61 (Hopewell), Chris Runion in House District 25 (Augusta), John Avoli in House District 20 (Staunton) and Amanda Batton winning in House District 96 (James City County).
Republicans lost a Republican held open seat in House District 28 (Stafford) with Josh Cole the Democrat winning and Martha Mulger winning in House District 91 (Poquoson).
Democrats held on and protected all Democratic open seats and all Democratic incumbent seats. Two hotly contested races in Henrico County, House District 72 and House District 73 saw both remain Democratic. Henrico is clearly a “blue” county now having re-elected a Democratic Commonwealths Attorney and electing a Democratic Sheriff in an open seat race.
The two most targeted house races by national money was Speaker Kirk Cox and money committee chairman Chris Jones of Suffolk. Both districts were redrawn by the special magistrate and moved to high Democratic numbers. Cox survived the election, but Jones was defeated. Two Republican incumbent races teetering this morning are Roxanne Robinson (Chesterfield) and Chris Stolle (Virginia Beach).
The House Democrats have wasted no time as they announced last week that they will caucus this Saturday to select their new leadership with over 5 delegates having their name in the hat to be Speaker. Two of the candidates are female and Virginia will know this weekend if it will have the first female speaker in history. The caucus is going to struggle to balance moderates and progressives as the progressives want immediate wins on gun bands, ratification of the ERA, and a raise in minimum wage. If the progressives think their agendas will be better serviced by one of their own, then the traditional front runners for leadership may struggle.
The Senate Democrats have not yet set a date to elect leadership, but it is expected that Senator Dick Saslaw (Fairfax) will serve as majority leader as he has done in the past.