Republicans are trying to flip control of the Virginia House of Delegates, and Democrats are trying to hold onto control with every seat on ballots Tuesday.
Democrats hold a 10-seat majority in the chamber going into election day, which means Republicans would need to flip six seats to take control or five to have a 50-50 split. Recent polls have shown Republicans and Democrats neck-and-neck statewide for House elections, similar to the virtual tie between gubernatorial candidates Glenn Youngkin and Terry McAuliffe.
Republicans had held a majority in the chamber for nearly three decades, but Democrats began chipping away at the lead in the 2017 election, in which the party flipped 15 seats, and eventually took control of the chamber in 2019, in which they flipped another six. Previously, Republicans had a majority between 1991 and 2019.
“We’re optimistic that we’re going to win back a number of seats that have flipped to Democrats in recent years,” Garren Shipley, the communications director for House Minority Leader Todd Gilbert, R-Shenandoah, told The Center Square.
“We have a fantastic slate of candidates, and they’ve all been working extremely hard to highlight the differences between themselves and their opponents,” Shipley said. “More specifically, voters recognize that Democrats have made our schools less safe by ending mandatory reporting of sexual battery, releasing dangerous criminals from prison, and treating police like the enemy. They’ve seen Democrats make life more expensive by raising the gas tax and sticking families with power bills higher by $800. Voters don’t like what they’re getting from Democrats, and for good reason.”
After gaining control of the chamber, the Democratic majority in the chamber was able to pass a host of bills they had not been able to get through under Republican leadership. Some of their priorities included stricter gun control laws, legalizing marijuana, more authority for local governments to impose higher taxes, authority for local governments to permit collective bargaining of public workers, a minimum wage hike, criminal justice reform and harsher environmental regulations. They also voted to end qualified immunity for police officers, but the measure failed to get support from moderate Democrats in the Senate.
Republicans have been critical of some of the Democratic measures and have argued for lower taxes, a more diversified energy sector, lower regulations and more parental authority over public education. Republicans have also run on supporting the police and have accused Democratic lawmakers of not standing with the police because of some of the criminal justice reform legislation.
The Center Square reached out to a spokesperson for House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn, D-Fairfax, but did not get a response by the time of publication.
The election will Nov. 2 and early voting ends Saturday.