Saturday, December 4, 2021

Republicans overturned Virginia’s House of Delegates, dealing a crushing blow to Democrats

Republicans regained majority control in the Virginia House of Delegates in Tuesday’s election, ending the Democrats’ brief hold on the House they used to win some of the party’s biggest legislative wins across the country in two years.

Democratic House Speaker Eileen Filler-Korn admitted on Friday night that the GOP will control a majority in the House next year, the Associated Press reported. The AP and state election officials have yet to make an official announcement in every legislative competition, but the GOP will have at least a 51-49 lead in the body.

“Although the election results were not in our favor, our work for the Virginians continues,” Filler-Korn said.

Democrats entered Tuesday with a 55-45 majority in Virginia’s lower house, which meant Republicans had to flip five seats to block the body and six to regain control. By the end of election night, it was clear that the GOP had won enough seats to at least create a tie with the legislature, and the party was on track to claim at least one more victory. Republicans successfully defended all of their representatives and took seats from Democrats across the state.

Republican control of the House of Delegates will be an important asset for Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin, who defeated Democrat Terry McAuliffe on Tuesday night.

This loss will cost the Democrats their majority in one of the most important legislative chambers, which they turned over during the presidency of Donald Trump. In 2019, Democratic successes in the suburbs of northern Virginia, the Richmond area and along the state’s southeast coast put the party in full control of the Virginia legislature for the first time in a generation. The National Party was entrenched in the South, and the blue future of the Commonwealth seemed to be cemented.

Democrats still hold a 21-19 majority in the Virginia Senate, which will not hold its next election until 2023. But on issues like abortion rights, this subtle advantage may not be enough to hold the line and block legislation from being passed. House of the Republican Party.

Democrats will also have to rely on their narrow majority in the state Senate to counter potential GOP efforts to curtail voting rights. Three Republican candidates, who were in Washington, DC, won elections to the House of Delegates at the Stop Theft rally ahead of the deadly January 6 US Capitol uprising. Two held the presidency, and the third, MP Marie March, spoke about her participation in the rally during her campaign.

Other conservative legislators pointed out that the outcome would lead to renewed efforts to conduct conspiracy-based election scrutiny that have already been conducted in Arizona and are being held in other states, raising fears among Democratic lawmakers that the GOP will try to abandon its early expansion and weekend voting, and are seeking to impose broader voting restrictions, such as those introduced this year by 19 other Republican-controlled states.

The loss of the House of Delegates will stop the ambitious legislative agenda that Democrats have put forward over the past two years, and which they hoped to develop in future sessions. It is also likely to exacerbate broader concerns about the party’s ability to retain power in state legislatures, which has led to aggressive action by the Republican Party in favor of the far-right over the past decade.

Virginia Democrats pushed the state in the opposite direction. Over the past two years, they have passed new laws that expanded access to abortion, strengthened voting rights, implemented gun control policies, created new protections for LGBTQ people, raised the minimum wage, abolished the death penalty, and pushed for a state transition from fossil fuels and fight change. climate.

Before they took full control, Democrats also successfully expanded Medicaid, a change that, according to official figures, allowed nearly 500,000 Virginias to access health care through the federal program.

Back in power, Republicans may try to change many of these policies – especially with Yangkin at the governor’s mansion.

The Democrats knew it would be difficult to keep the majority, given that they had taken control by winning key districts that had long supported Republicans and voted for Trump in the 2016 presidential election. But they entered the final stages of the race with some confidence that they will retain their influence in the House of Delegates.

This is the last disappointment at the state level for the party that survived them. Although Democrats won 200 state legislatures and overturned eight chambers during the Trump presidency, this has only begun to make up for the losses they have suffered over the previous eight years as the GOP won nearly 1,000 such seats nationwide.

The Virginia House of Delegates is the third of these eight bodies to return to the GOP after New Hampshire Republicans regained control of both houses in 2020, when Democrats failed to overturn a single legislature despite pouring record resources into such races. …

Preliminary analysis of the vote shows that Democratic legislative candidates in key races may have surpassed McAuliffe, the party’s nominee for governor, according to the States Project, a progressive group that said six of the eight candidates it supported in Virginia ahead of McAuliffe.

This is a marked contrast from 2017, when Democratic legislative candidates lagged behind the top of the list, even when they won 16 seats in the House of Delegates, and from 2020, when Democratic presidential victories and key statewide competitions did not result in major advances in legislatures. And it could give at least some hope to Democrats and progressives that their renewed focus on state legislatures could pay off in better conditions.

Next year’s midterm elections should have created problems for the party by now, especially after a tough redistribution cycle in which Republicans controlled most of the state legislatures. Democrats view Pennsylvania, Arizona and Michigan as a potential opportunity to overturn legislatures held by the GOP.

But if the political environment that led to the losses in Virginia remains the same, they may have to focus on protecting the existing majority in states like Maine and Colorado.

This will be even more important in 2022 as the GOP state legislatures continue to serve as a launching pad for the party’s most anti-democratic whims. Efforts by Republicans to restrict voting rights and exert party influence over the governance, oversight, and even certification of elections have raised fears that the party may try to use its legislative dominance to undermine future elections in a way that failed last year when Trump and the GOP tried to challenge results of lost elections.

“Virginia shows once again that the radical right understands what is at stake in state legislatures,” said Simone Leiro, a spokesman for Project States. “2022 is our last chance to finally learn this lesson – or it will be proven when this majority refuses to confirm elections in 2024.”

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