RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) – Democrats are still taking their victory lap after seizing control of Virginia’s legislature as Gov. Glenn Youngkin called for finding a path forward on bipartisan priorities for the party and his administration.
In his first public comments since Virginia Democrats’ sweep, Youngkin admitted he was “a little disappointed” but quickly noted the lesson from Tuesday’s election results was that the state is “really purple.”
“I’m not going anywhere. And we still have a divided government,” Youngkin told reporters Wednesday. “Which means we all have to come together to progress legislation.”
Youngkin pointed to compromises between Democrats and Republicans on tax cuts and investing more in education and mental health during his time in office. He said that more could be done to address these issues and voiced optimism about reaching bipartisan solutions.
“I think this is what Virginians expect,” Youngkin said. “I think they know that in a state that is so purple, that we do debate. We do argue, but they expect us to find common ground on these most important topics and to press forward.”
But proposals in the governor’s conservative legislative agenda, including the ban on abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy that he campaigned on, have no path forward in the last two years of his term with Democrats controlling the legislature.
“Governor Youngkin lost, plain and simple,” Heather Williams, the interim president of the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, said Wednesday on a press call when asked about Youngkin’s assessment that Virginia is a purple state.
While the final totals are still unclear, Democrats will have a 21-19 majority in the Virginia Senate and at least 51 seats in the 100-member House of Delegates. Both Republican caucuses released statements acknowledging that Democrats won both chambers.
Where Democrats and Republicans will be able to carve out a bipartisan path on legislative priorities is still uncertain. Youngkin said Wednesday that he hadn’t spoken directly with top state Democrats, saying he expects to once leaders are picked.
Del. Don Scott (Portsmouth), the Democratic leader in the Virginia House who is expected to become the chamber’s first Black speaker, said the party had the message, candidates and momentum to stop “the extreme Republicans’ agenda.”
Current House Speaker Todd Gilbert (R-Shenandoah) released a statement Wednesday that struck a more contentious tone than Youngkin.
“In the end, our focus on better schools, safer communities, and lowering the cost of living couldn’t overcome a dishonest Democratic focus on a lone issue,” Gilbert said, likely referring to abortion rights.
“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.”