Democrats secure majority in the Virginia Senate

(AP photo/Steve Helber)

By Carolyn Fiddler

November 8, 2023

All 40 Virginia state Senate seats were on the ballot on Tuesday, and Democrats have emerged from the election with majority control of the chamber.

After key Democratic retirements and primary election upsets earlier in the year, this majority will be younger and likely more progressive than it was previously. 

The incoming Senate Democratic caucus will also be history-making; Senator-elect Danica Roem will be the first transgender woman to serve in the chamber.

With a Democratic majority, the Senate will remain a roadblock to Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s conservative agenda, which includes banning abortion, cutting taxes for corporations and the wealthiest Virginians, and diverting taxpayer dollars away from public education to fund private schools.

Other Republican agenda items the state Senate will likely be tasked with blocking in the coming legislative session include book bans and rolling back voting rights by eliminating or reducing early voting, same-day voter registration, and absentee voting.

Democratic Sen. Louise Lucas will now be the most senior and powerful Democrat in the chamber, and her record suggests that she will emerge as Youngkin’s chief antagonist in his final two years in office.

Democrats did not win their Senate majority easily or cheaply; final finance reports from candidates and PACs are still pending, but ad spending alone suggests that this year’s elections were the most expensive ever. Youngkin’s Spirit of Virginia PAC donated more than $5 million directly to Republican Senate candidates.

Since Virginia governors cannot succeed themselves, Youngkin is barred from running for reelection, and without his party in control of the General Assembly for the final two years of his term, he’ll begin 2024 as a lame duck. Few of his agenda items are likely to be passed into law before he leaves office.

  • Carolyn Fiddler

    Carolyn Fiddler is Dogwood's chief political correspondent. She is also the nation’s foremost expert in state politics with almost two decades of experience in statehouse machinations, and her comic book collection is probably bigger than yours.

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