The State Capitol. Photo by Markus Schmidt.
The State Capitol. Photo by Markus Schmidt.

Virginia Democrats on Tuesday secured the required seats to maintain control of the state Senate and regain a majority in the House of Delegates. Their victories in both chambers deny Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin a legislative trifecta that would have allowed him to promptly enact his policy agenda, including a 15-week abortion ban with exceptions that he endorsed last year. 

By 11:30 p.m., Democrats had flipped three Republican House districts, giving the party 51 of the lower chamber’s 100 seats. In the state Senate, where Democrats were defending a 22-18 majority, they maintained a grip on 21 seats, with one race still undecided. 

“This outcome can be explained in three words: Roe vs. Wade,” said Stephen Farnsworth, a political scientist at the University of Mary Washington. 

Ever since the U.S. Supreme Court in 2022 reversed a nearly 50-year precedent, sending the authority to restrict abortion back to the states, Republicans have been “paying the political price,” Farnsworth said. 

“If Youngkin thought his first two years were frustrating legislatively, he has seen nothing yet. The Democratic caucus that takes control in January is the most ideologically consistent Democratic caucus in a long time.” 

Tuesday’s Democratic victories were also bad news for Youngkin’s presidential ambitions for 2024, Farnsworth added. 

“Any fleeting hopes among Republicans that Governor Youngkin would represent a compelling alternative to Donald Trump in national politics evaporated along with these results,” he said.   

In one of Southwest Virginia’s key races, Sen. David Suetterlein, R-Roanoke County, the incumbent, easily defeated his Democratic challenger, Roanoke City Council member Trish White-Boyd, in the newly created state Senate District 4. 

Both candidates were vying to succeed Sen. John Edwards, D-Roanoke, who announced in February that he would retire at the end of the year after he and Suetterlein were drawn into the same new district.

In the most competitive House of Delegates race west of Richmond this fall, Republican Chris Obenshain topped his Democratic opponent Lily Franklin in House District 41.

And in a three-way contest in House District 51, Republican Eric Zehr ousted the incumbent, Del. Matt Fariss, who ran as an independent after missing his deadline for filing to seek the GOP nomination. Fariss is set to stand trial in January after being indicted on two felony counts in an alleged hit-and-run. 

Zehr also defeated Democrat Kim Moran, who came in second. 

Despite the Republican victories in the region, Democrats on Tuesday celebrated their return to full control of the legislature. 

“We’ve been telling you all since day one that Democrats had the message, the candidates, and the momentum to put a stop to the extreme Republicans’ agenda. And that’s what we did tonight,” Del. Don Scott, D-Portsmouth, the House Democratic leader, said in a statement.

“Our candidates reflect the future of the commonwealth. They are products of the communities they’ll be representing. They are trusted community leaders. Today is Day 0 of this campaign and tomorrow is the first day of a new Virginia. The work begins to protect and defend the rights and freedoms of hardworking Virginia families and make this economy work for everybody,” said Scott, who is poised to become the first Black speaker of the House of Delegates in the 400-plus-year history of the legislative body.

Additional election results for Southwest Virginia and Southside

State Senate

  • Del. Chris Head, R-Botetourt County, defeated Democrat Jade Harris 68% to 32% in the newly created Senate District 3, which includes Alleghany, Botetourt, Craig and Rockbridge counties, parts of Augusta, Bedford and Roanoke counties, and the cities of Buena Vista, Covington, Lexington, Staunton and Waynesboro. 
  • Sen. Travis Hackworth, R-Tazewell County, defeated Democrat Robert Beckman 68% to 32% in Senate District 5 (Bland, Giles, Pulaski, Tazewell and Smyth counties, parts of Montgomery and Wythe counties, and Radford).
  • Sen. Bill Stanley, R-Franklin County, defeated Democrat Renie Gates 78% to 22% in Senate District 7 (Carroll, Floyd, Franklin, Grayson, Henry and Patrick counties, parts of Wythe County, and the cities of Galax and Martinsville).
  • Sen. Mark Peake, R-Lynchburg, defeated Democrat Donna St. Clair 68% to 32% in Senate District 8 (Campbell County, parts of Bedford County and Lynchburg). 
  • Sen. Creigh Deeds, D-Charlottesville, defeated Republican Philip Hamilton 66% to 34% in the newly created Senate District 11 (Albemarle, Amherst and Nelson counties, parts of Louisa County, and Charlottesville). 
  • Del. Emily Brewer, R-Suffolk, defeated Del. Clint Jenkins, D-Suffolk, 53% to 47% in the newly created Senate District 17 (Brunswick, Greensville, Isle of Wight and Southampton counties, parts of Dinwiddie County, parts of the cities of Chesapeake and Portsmouth and the cities of Franklin, Emporia and Suffolk).

State Senate (uncontested)

  • Sen. Todd Pillion, R-Washington County: Senate District 6 (Buchanan, Dickenson Lee, Russell, Scott, Washington and Wise counties, and the cities of Bristol and Norton)
  • Sen. Frank Ruff, R-Mecklenburg County: Senate District 9 (Charlotte, Halifax, Lunenburg, Mecklenburg, Nottoway and Pittsylvania counties, parts of Prince Edward County and Danville)
  • Del. John McGuire, R-Goochland: Senate District 10 (Amelia, Appomattox, Buckingham, Cumberland, Fluvanna, Goochland and Powhatan counties, and parts of Hanover, Henrico, Louisa and Prince Edward counties)

House of Delegates 

  • Del. Ellen Campbell, R-Rockbridge County, defeated Democrat Randall Wolf 63% to 37% in House District 36, which includes parts of Augusta and Rockbridge counties, and the cities of Staunton and Waynesboro.
  • Del. Terry Austin, R-Botetourt County, defeated Democrat Stephanie Clark 71% to 29% in House District 37 (Alleghany, Botetourt and Craig counties, parts of Rockbridge County, and the cities of Buena Vista, Covington and Lexington).  
  • Del. Joe McNamara, R-Roanoke County, defeated Democrat Misty Vickers 60% to 40% in House District 40 (parts of Roanoke County, Salem and parts of Roanoke).
  • Del. Will Morefield, R-Tazewell County, defeated independent challenger Dave Ratliff 85% to 14% in House District 43 (Tazewell, Bland and Buchanan counties, parts of Dickenson and Russell counties). 
  • Del. Wren Williams, R-Patrick County, defeated Democrat Patty Quesenberry and independent candidate Jacob Frogel 77% to 20% in House District 47 (Carroll, Floyd and Patrick County, parts of Henry County and Galax). 
  • Del. Tommy Wright, R-Lunenburg, defeated Democrat Josh Blakely 67% to 32% in House District 50 (Charlotte, Lunenburg and Mecklenburg counties, parts of Halifax and Prince Edward counties). 
  • Del. Wendell Walker, R-Lynchburg, defeated Democrat Jennifer Woofter 54% to 46% in House District 52 (Lynchburg, parts of Campbell County).
  • Republican Tim Griffin defeated Democrat Sam Soghor 73% to 36% in the newly created House District 53 (Amherst County, parts of Bedford and Nelson counties). 

House of Delegates (uncontested)

  • Del. Chris Runion, R-Rockingham County: House District 35 (Bath County, Highland County, parts of Augusta and Rockingham counties)
  • Del. Sam Rasoul, D-Roanoke: House District 38 (parts of Roanoke)
  • Will Davis, Republican: House District 39 (Franklin County, parts of Bedford and Roanoke counties)
  • Del. Jason Ballard, R-Pearisburg: House District 42 (Giles County, parts of Montgomery and Pulaski counties, Radford)
  • Del. Israel O’Quinn, R-Washington County: House District 44 (Bristol, Washington County and parts of Russell County)
  • Del. Terry Kilgore, R-Scott County: House District 45 (Wise, Scott and Lee counties, parts of Dickenson County, Norton)
  • Del. Jed Arnold, R-Smyth County: House District 46 (Wythe, Smyth and Grayson counties, parts of Pulaski County)
  • Del. Les Adams, R-Pittsylvania County: House District 48 (parts of Pittsylvania and Henry counties, Martinsville)
  • Del. Danny Marshall, R-Danville: House District 49 (Danville City, parts of Halifax and Pittsylvania counties)
  • Tom Garrett, Republican: House District 56 (Appomattox, Buckingham and Cumberland counties, parts of Fluvanna, Goochland, Louisa and Prince Edward counties)

Markus Schmidt is a reporter for Cardinal News. Reach him at or 804-822-1594.