Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin on Wednesday expressed disappointment with the election results that allowed Democrats take the control from both the Virginia House of Delegates and Senate, but pledged to work with the party's new legislative majority on bipartisan priorities such as improving the mental health care system and boosting economic development for the remainder of his term.
Youngkin struck an optimistic tone as he told reporters gathered at the foot of the Capitol steps in Richmond that the results underscored Virginia's history of alternating between Democratic and Republican control.
"I'm a little disappointed to be clear," he said.
“I think lesson number one is that Virginia is really purple and coming into this election, we knew it was going to be tough.”
Democrats have pointed to their support for abortion rights as a winning factor in Tuesday's election.
Youngkin did not directly respond to a question about whether he thought his proposed 15-week ban with exceptions is still viable, but said he thought "there is room to come together around a reasonable limit."
The election results have been interpreted as a blow to Youngkin, who invested a great deal of time, money and political capital in the races and has been frequently cited as a possible late entrant in the 2024 presidential race.
When asked by reporters if he is still considering becoming a presidential candidate, Youngkin, who cannot seek a second consecutive term, reiterated his frequent response that he remains “focused on Virginia.”
Only one legislative race remained undecided Wednesday afternoon: a House race south of Richmond, where Republican incumbent Kim Taylor held a narrow lead over Democrat Kimberly Pope Adams. Taylor declared victory, but Adams said her campaign was waiting for all votes to be counted.
The Associated Press called other ultra-competitive races on Wednesday, long after it became clear that Democrats had secured majorities in both chambers.
Republican Tara Durant prevailed over Democrat Joel Griffin and independent Monica Gary in a Senate race in northern Virginia.
And in a Tidewater district, Republican challenger Danny Diggs, a long-time retired sheriff, defeated Democratic incumbent Monty Mason.
The Democrats, who They focused their message to voters on the protection of the right to abortion will begin the 2024 session with a 21-19 majority in the 40-seat upper house and will hold at least 51 of the House's 100 seats.
"Governor Youngkin and Virginia Republicans did everything they could to take full control of the state government, but the people of the Commonwealth rejected them," Susan Swecker, chairwoman of the Virginia Democratic Party, said in a statement.
Senate Republicans acknowledged Tuesday night that Democrats had won the majority in that chamber. House Republicans did so Wednesday afternoon.
“Now, our Republican caucus will once again assume the role of loyal opposition, working with Governor Youngkin to hold the line against the worst leftist impulses of the incoming Democratic majority and ensure that common sense ideas are not forgotten.” House Speaker Todd Gilbert said in a statement.
In the House, Republican David Owen defeated Democrat Susanna Gibson in a highly competitive race in suburban Richmond that drew attention after revelations that Gibson engaged in sexual 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.
Election results swung throughout the night Tuesday, but The Associated Press called the race for Owen shortly before 1:30 p.m. Wednesday.
All 140 General Assembly seats were on the ballot in this year's tight campaign cycle.