RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Democratic leaders in Virginia conceded Friday that Republicans have won control of the House of Delegates.
The Associated Press has not called all of Virginia's House races yet. But the concession means Republicans would complete an elections sweep in which they also reclaimed the offices of governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general.
House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn issued a statement acknowledging the GOP majority shortly after Democratic Del. Martha Mugler conceded defeat in a tight race against Republican challenger A.C. Cordoza in the 91st House district, located in Virginia's Hampton Roads region. With Mugler's concession, Republicans now expect to hold at least 51 seats in the 100-member chamber.
“While the results of the election were not in our favor, our work for the people of Virginia goes on,” said Filler-Corn.
Garren Shipley, a spokesman for House Republican Leader Todd Gilbert, said Filler-Corn called Gilbert on Friday. “The House Republican caucus appreciates her pledge to a smooth transition to the incoming majority,” Shipley said.
The GOP victories are being seen as a backlash against a Democratic majority that has pushed through a series of progressive reforms over the past two years, including the repeal of the death penalty, a loosening of abortion restrictions and the legalization of marijuana.
Democrats hold a slim 21-19 majority in the Senate. Senators are not up for reelection until 2023.
Tuesday’s marquee race in Virginia was the governor’s contest, in which Republican businessman Glenn Youngkin defeated former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe. The GOP also captured the lieutenant governor’s office after Republican Winsome Sears beat Democrat Hala Ayala, and the attorney general’s office with Republican Jason Miyares’ victory over Democratic two-term incumbent Mark Herring. Sears will become the state’s first female lieutenant governor and the first woman of color to win statewide office in Virginia.
Youngkin’s victory and the near-defeat of New Jersey’s Democratic governor have sparked fears that Democrats are on course to lose control of Congress in next year’s midterm elections.
Democrats held a 55-45 majority heading into the election Tuesday.
Republicans had controlled the House since 2000, but Democrats won back 15 GOP-held seats in 2017, helped by voter hostility toward then-President Donald Trump. In 2019, Democrats took full control of the legislature by wiping out slim Republican majorities in the House and Senate.
Among the surprise wins this year was that by Republican Kim Taylor over three-term incumbent Democratic Del. Lashrecse Aird in the 63rd District, which gave Republicans their 50th seat on Wednesday. Aird claimed victory late Tuesday, but a late surge by Taylor gave her a 741-vote win.
Democrat Wendy Gooditis won reelection to her third term in District 10, defeating Republican challenger Nick Clemente, a political newcomer. Gooditis’ northern Virginia district includes parts of fast-growing Loudoun County and rural areas in Clarke and Frederick counties.
Associated Press writer Sarah Rankin in Richmond, Virginia, contributed to this report.
Denise Lavoie, The Associated Press