RICHMOND, Va. (CN) – Virginia Democrats were celebrating Tuesday as they took control of the statehouse for the first time in more than two decades.
The 2019 elections in the state appeared to show a continuation of the “blue wave” that swept Virginia in 2017 and 2018, with Democrats flipping several state House and Senate seats. Now, the party has won control over both chambers – and holds a trifecta of power with Democratic Governor Ralph Northam in office.
While the dust is still settling in some tight races and technical issues wracked the state’s Board of Election website, Virginia Public Access Project, a nonprofit vote tallying aggregate, is reporting Democrats flipped six House seats and two Senate seats. The 2017 House race came down to one district whose votes were technically tied so it was decided by pulling a name out of a bowl – the GOP candidate won there, giving Republicans a 51-49 majority. Democrats now hold the 100 seat chamber with a five seat advantage, 55-45.
In the Virginia Senate, Democrats picked up two seats, giving them a 21-19 majority.
“Tonight, the ground has shifted in Virginia government,” Northam said in a statement Tuesday night. “The voters have spoken, and they have elected landmark Democratic majorities in both the Senate and the House of Delegates. I am proud of my fellow Democrats and inspired by our shared victory.”
The governor said the win for Democrats indicates that Virginians want their elected officials to “defend the rights of women, LGBTQ Virginians, immigrant communities, and communities of color.”
Virginia is one of a handful of states that hold off-year elections, one of four states with legislative elections this year, and is the only one in which the statehouse was up for grabs.
While some seats were still being called Tuesday night, the trend toward Democratic control matched the outlook of some voters, including Richmond lawyer Jimmie Kane.
“I used to like Republican candidates but now there is no Republican party, it’s the Trump party and everyone else falls in line like good little soldiers,” said Kane shortly after casting his ballot Tuesday morning in Richmond’s suburban Northside.
“I’m not afraid of [Trump] and I don’t think our elected officials should be either,” he said.
Kane’s views matched the predictions of most pollsters across the state who forecasted increased turnout in suburban regions, mostly from Democrats aiming to send a message to President Donald Trump, who lost the state in the presidential election in 2016.
This energy was further on display in Henrico County, a once reliably red Richmond suburb.
“I vote for different parties but this one felt different,” said Ken Kerns, a local retiree who voted around noon and said he could not support Republicans in the state’s legislature after their failure to address lax gun laws during a special session held over the summer.
“The inaction was intolerable,” Kerns said about the gun-law-specific session, which aimed to address firearms issues in the wake of a May 2019 Norfolk-area mass shooting which left 13 people dead.