Republican Glenn Youngkin’s defeat to Democrat Terry McAulliffe, along with the GOP’s gains in the state legislature, will give Youngkin, a former private equity executive, a level of legislative power that some Democrats believe could stifle access to abortion, LGBTQ + rights and voting rights. It could also have ramifications for education, a major goal of Youngkin, who campaigned both to increase the budget and increase teachers’ salaries, but also to restrict classes in public schools on the role of racism. in American history.
Republican Winsome Sears made history Tuesday night, becoming the first woman to be elected lieutenant governor and the first woman of color to win a statewide post. His tie-breaking power in the State Senate – where Democrats have a slim majority and no seats were up for election this year – could prove crucial for conservative policy making. During his campaign, Sears expressed his opposition to abortion, as did Youngkin, and his support for a texan law which effectively banned the procedure after six weeks of pregnancy.
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Jamie Lockhart, executive director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia, said she expects newly emboldened Republicans in Virginia to introduce anti-abortion legislation. She said the focus will be on blocking them in the Senate. Lockhart stressed that the election results should not deter people from seeking abortion services in Virginia.
“Today, I think about the patients and what this change means for them and also for the medical providers who provide healthcare with compassion,” she told the 19th.
During his victory speech, Sears did not mention abortion. She said she would focus on “Commonwealth business” including funding historically black colleges and universities, lowering taxes, making neighborhoods safer and ensuring children get a “good education. “.
Preliminary results from Tuesday’s election show Republicans are likely to overthrow the House of Delegates, a chamber the Democrats won just two years ago. Since then they expanded access to abortion removing restrictions on abortion provider facilities, ultrasound requirements and mandatory counseling. The Democratic-controlled legislature also passed anti-discrimination protections for LGBTQ + people and expanded early voting.
“At this point, we just have to be on defense of these issues,” Del said. Danica Roem, who was the first transgender person to be elected and serve in a state legislature and who won a third term on Tuesday.
More broadly, Republicans rejoice in their political fortunes, which extend beyond the state. Their candidate in the New Jersey governor’s race closely followed the incumbent Democratic, and the party won big in statewide court races in Pennsylvania.
“This is what can happen when Republicans across the state run races with the right candidates, the right messages and data-driven tactics. ” the Republican State Leadership Committee shared on social networks.
Christina Polizzi, national press secretary for the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, said the party expected an “uncertain political environment” as Tuesday approached. But she noted that Democratic incumbents from several competitive districts in suburban Virginia had also retained their seats.
“The reality is that in these districts our incumbents in the legislature have stood firm because of their accomplishments, not in spite of themselves,” she said.
The Democrats’ government control triumph in the 2021 Virginia legislative session meant it failed to advance the bills that have cropped up in Republican-controlled legislatures across the country. This legislation included a record number of abortion restrictions, anti-trans proposals and voting restrictions.
During the campaign, Youngkin voiced his opposition to marriage equality, alarming advocates. Youngkin told The Associated Press he felt “called to love everyone,” but when asked if he supported same-sex marriage, he replied, “No.” Youngkin said he would support the law, which he called “legally acceptable.”
In a conference call with members of the press, Roem, a Democrat, predicted that Republicans would table “a lot of bad bills” that they may not have intended to pass but which ‘they wanted Democrats to vote to create a voting record for future elections.
Roem said she plans to table a series of bills to address flaws in Virginia’s adult guardianship system and hopes to work with fellow Republicans.
“We’re at least in a place where I think the Republicans in the House, as well as the governor, are going to have to understand that they have to work with a Democrat-owned state Senate,” Roem said. “In that case, if they’re going to get things passed, instead of just making the headlines, that means they’re going to have to come together in a way of, ‘OK, what bills can we deal with that are not inherently partisan? ”
Much of Youngkin’s closing argument was based on the role of public schools. In addition to promising to increase teacher pay and school budgets, he said parents should have more say in the program and also better access to charter schools. Much of the discussion about the program, in Virginia as in races across the country, has been linked to accusations that students were learning “critical race theory,” an advanced academic setting, and critics have widely applied it. lessons that teach the role of racism in US history. The argument is seen as designed to appeal to white parents, with activists showing up at school board meetings arguing that their children are learning their race makes them bad.
“Friends, we are going to hug our parents, not ignore them,” Youngkin said in his victory speech. “We’re going to move forward with a program that includes listening to parent feedback, a program that lets our kids run as fast as they can, teach them to think, make their dreams fly. Friends , we will restore excellence in our schools.
While McAuliffe highlighted plans to extend paid sick leave and a $ 15 minimum wage, he also focused largely on the attempt to tie Youngkin to former President Donald Trump, who lost l ‘Status of 10 points in 2020.
Instead of, preliminary exit poll shows that Youngkin – who expressed his support for the former president but did not embrace him wholeheartedly – had the most effective message.
Sarah Longwell, a Republican strategist who did not back Trump, said the results of the Virginia gubernatorial race showed that “Trump is on the ballot for the people he attracts, not on the ballot of votes for the people it rejects “.
“The great thing that I saw in all the focus groups was that Trump voters were filled with raging enthusiasm to go out and vote for any living Republican,” she said. declared.
“It seems to me that the enthusiasm gap isn’t that Democrats haven’t turned out, it’s that Republicans have turned out and outperformed in these rural districts – there is pent-up enthusiasm for Republicans. which is almost overwhelming. ”
As Democrats study what Virginia means ahead of the midterm election, some believe the loss of McAuliffe shows the need for diverse faces in politics. A’shanti Gholar, president of Emerge, a candidate recruiting organization for Democratic women, said on the same conference call with Roem that some Virginia Democratic candidates had outperformed the former governor.
“Virginia should serve as a warning to Democrats that if we remain complacent and do not make an effort to present candidates who speak to the most pressing issues facing this country, 2022 will be a difficult year across the board,” a- she declared. noted.
Political strategist Alencia Johnson, a veteran of the presidential campaign of Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren and Planned Parenthood, said that “maybe, just maybe, Democrats will finally realize that leading white men moderates is not the answer to galvanize our youth and individual base. of color. ”
Johnson said she would still support Democrats who win their party’s nomination: “But until then? It’s time for new leadership. Especially since the GOP’s racist and sexist culture wars work for their grassroots. ”
Johnson added that Democrats are tired of fighting Trump’s legacy and should instead focus on inspiring candidates or popular policies such as paid family leave, which House Republicans say are back. Biden Build Back Better Plan, although its ultimate fate is unclear. Voting rights legislation has also stalled amid Republican opposition.
“We need something to fight for, something to believe in,” she said.