Disappointed, but optimistic: Governor Youngkin on Virginia moving forward after Election Day

Posted at 2:41 PM, Nov 08, 2023
and last updated 2023-11-08 18:55:35-05

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin expressed disappointment Wednesday with election results that allowed Democrats to take control of both the Virginia House and Senate, but pledged to work with the party’s new legislative majority on bipartisan priorities like improving the mental health care system and economic development over the remainder of his term.

Youngkin struck an optimistic tone as he told reporters gathered at the foot of the Capitol steps that the results showed Virginia is a state that has a history of alternating between Democratic and Republican control.

“I’m a little disappointed to be clear,” he said.

"I think the Number One lesson is that Virginia is really purple, and that going into these elections, we knew that they were going to be tough.”

Democrats have pointed to their support for abortion rights as a winning issue in Tuesday's election.

Click here to see full and updated 2023 Virginia Election Results

Youngkin did not directly answer a question about whether he thought his proposed 15-week ban remains viable but said he thought the results showed Virginia is a purple state.

“We all have to come together in order to progress legislation,” Youngkin said.

Glenn Youngkin post-election
Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R - Virginia) addressed reporters gathered at the foot of the Capitol on November 8, 2023.

The election results are widely seen as a significant blow to Youngkin, who has been frequently mentioned as a possible late entry into the 2024 presidential race.

When asked by reporters if he is still considering becoming a presidential candidate, Youngkin reiterated his frequently stated response that he remains “focused on Virginia."

Only a handful of ultra-competitive Virginia legislative races remained undecided by Wednesday afternoon after Democrats won enough contests to take control of both the House and Senate.

After Republican Tara Durant prevailed over Democrat Joel Griffin and independent Monica Gary in a northern Virginia Senate race, only one seat in that chamber was too early to call, along with one in the House of Delegates.

Those contests will determine the final margins in each chamber.

Democrats, who centered their message to voters around protecting abortion rights, won at least 21 seats in the 40-seat Senate and at least 51 in the 100-member House of Delegates.

“Governor Youngkin and Virginia Republicans did everything they could to take total control of state government, but the people of the Commonwealth rejected them,” Susan Swecker, chairwoman of the Democratic Party of Virginia, said in a statement.

Senate Republicans conceded late Tuesday that Democrats had taken that chamber's majority. House Republicans did so Wednesday afternoon.

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Uncalled by The Associated Press as of Wednesday afternoon was the Tidewater matchup between Democratic incumbent Monty Mason and his GOP challenger, Danny Diggs, in the Senate.

Diggs issued a statement claiming victory, but Mason's campaign said he was still waiting for final votes to come in.

Republican David Owen defeated Democrat Susanna Gibson in a highly competitive Virginia House of Delegates race that drew attention after revelations that Gibson engaged in sex acts with her husband on a pornographic website. But Gibson, a nurse practitioner, refused to withdraw from the race and accused Republicans of dirty politics for exposing her conduct.

The election results see-sawed throughout the night Tuesday, but The Associated Press called the race for Owen just before 1:30 p.m. Wednesday.

And in a competitive race south of Richmond uncalled by the AP, Republican incumbent Kim Taylor held a narrow lead over Democrat Kimberly Pope Adams. Taylor declared victory, but Adams said her campaign was waiting for every vote to be counted.

All 140 General Assembly seats were on the ballot in this year's hard-fought campaign cycle. Democrats' path to the majority ran through mostly suburban districts in Hampton Roads, and central and northern Virginia.

In holding their Senate majority and flipping the House of Delegates, Democrats ensured at least two more years of divided government for the duration of Youngkin's term.

Youngkin, who cannot seek a second consecutive four years in office, invested a great deal of time, money and political capital in the races.

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