11/8/2019, 6 a.m.
The voters of Virginia have spoken. And we are jubilant about the message they sent through the ballot box on Tuesday — that they want a more progressive Virginia as envisioned by Democrats.
The election results were quite significant, with Democrats beating five Republican incumbents and winning three open seats to capture a 55-45 majority in the House of Delegates and a 21-19 majority in the state Senate.
The election was a clear repudiation of Republican principles that have held the state back for too long on such critical issues as gun safety and anti-violence legislation, women’s health and LGBTQ rights and higher wages for workers.
With this blue wave sweeping the state, Virginians want to shift the narrative from an “Old Dominion” to a “New Dominion.”
For the first time since 1995, Democrats will have majorities in both the House of Delegates and the state Senate. The election also marks the first time since 1993, when former Gov. L. Douglas Wilder was in office, that Democrats will hold control of the General Assembly and the governor’s office.
The legislature was hamstrung during Gov. Wilder’s tenure with a major budget deficit, which put the brakes on many initiatives. Instead of moving Virginia forward, lawmakers were tasked with cutting programs and funding for agencies in a way that would least hurt and damage the people.
Fortunately today, Virginia is in a better place fiscally. And we hope the new Democratically controlled legislature will work smoothly and efficiently with Gov. Ralph S. Northam, Lt. Gov. Justin E. Fairfax and Attorney General Mark R. Herring — all Democrats — to more equitably fund public education in urban areas, to raise the state’s minimum wage from the current paltry $7.25 per hour and to provide more money for community mental health services and alternatives to incarceration for nonviolent offenders.
“The era of Republican obstruction in the Commonwealth of Virginia is now over,” former Gov. Terry McAuliffe said Tuesday night of the new Democratic victory. “While tonight we celebrate the history we have made, tomorrow we must begin rewarding voters with action.”
Now is when the hard work begins. We hope that Democrats can deliver on their promises as the voters expect.
That likelihood has Republicans scared. House Majority Leader Todd Gilbert, a Republican from Shenandoah County, was straightforward. He warned in a statement issued Tuesday night that come January when the GeneralAssembly convenes, Democrats will seek to make good on their “extreme agenda” because “radical liberals from out of our Commonwealth will soon demand a return on the tens of millions they invested to elect a far-left Democratic majority.”
He said the Republicans “will fight that agenda at every turn.”
Even GOP House Speaker Kirk Cox of Colonial Heights, who was almost knocked out of office Tuesday by Democratic challenger Sheila Bynum-Coleman, somewhat kowtowed Tuesday, expressing hope in a statement Tuesday night that the newly empowered Democrats will treat the GOP minority with kindness during the upcoming General Assembly session.
He said: “When Republicans took the majority 20 years ago, we preserved proportional representation of committees and sought to treat our colleagues with the respect that should be afforded to all equal members in an institution as revered and esteemed as the House. I hope and pray those traditions continue regardless of who wields power in the years to come.”