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Virginia Democrats win full control of the state legislature, AP reports

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin answers questions from members of the media while campaigning at Piney Branch Elementary School November 7, 2023 in Bristow, Virginia.
Win McNamee
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Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin answers questions from members of the media while campaigning at Piney Branch Elementary School November 7, 2023 in Bristow, Virginia.

Virginia Democrats have maintained their control of the state Senate and flipped the state House, consolidating their grip on the state legislature in what will remain divided government.

Their legislative wins provide Democrats with a stronger hand pushing against the policy priorities of Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin.

The entire 140-seat legislature was up for grabs. The elections received significant national attention, with prominent Democrats like President Biden and former President Barack Obama boosting their party with emails and robocalls.

On the Republican side, Youngkin's political action committee poured significant cash into the campaign.

Although Virginia voters weren't weighing in directly on abortion rights, the issue permeated the campaigns. The commonwealth currently acts as a southern refuge for abortion access in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade last year.

In one competitive district in Petersburg, voters said abortion was their top issue.

"Even though the other things are important — that's more important than anything," Wilma Nedrick told NPR on Tuesday.

Republicans, led by Youngkin, have been trying to recast their messaging on abortion, pushing a position they framed as a middle ground on the issue: a ban on the procedure at 15 weeks, with exceptions for rape, incest, and the life of the mother.

The DNC cheered Tuesday's results, labeling them "a huge sign of Democrats' continued momentum heading into 2024."

Don Scott, the minority leader of House Democrats, told NPR Democratic candidates had "the message, the candidates, and the momentum to put a stop to the extreme Republicans' agenda."

Scott said the race has implications for 2024.

"I think this is a message that President Biden can take forward," he said. "He's won Virginia before. He'll win Virginia again."

The House will select its speaker on Saturday; Scott is the frontrunner. He would be the first Black speaker in the Virginia House of Delegates if elected.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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Jahd Khalil