Scott poised to become first Black Speaker of the House of Delegates
"I stand here on the threshold of becoming the first Black Speaker ever in the history of the Commonwealth of Virginia," Delegate Don Scott of Portsmouth told supporters on election night.
Now that Democrats are taking control of the House of Delegates, he's about to become Speaker Don Scott. "We ran this election cycle with one goal in mind," Scott said, "to root out extremism, protect our fundamental rights and freedoms for all Virginians, not just the ones we want to vote. They tried to exclude people right before the election from voting. Who does that?"
Democrats won big across Virginia on the strength of their message about abortion rights and Republican extremism. Republicans gambling that restricting abortion rights to 15 weeks would resonate with voters, but that was a gamble that did not pay off.
"I'm thrilled for the Commonwealth of Virginia that we are going to be able to move forward on positive policies, protect a woman's reproductive healthcare rights, continue to make sure that people have access to the ballot," House Democratic Caucus Chair Charniele Herring said Tuesday.
The next General Assembly will have a historic number of Black members, a fact not lost on chairman of the Legislative Black Caucus, Senator Lamont Bagby. "We put it all on the line. We didn't leave anything on the field. And because of that, we are going to go from about 20 members to about 32 members in the Black caucus. And that's an awesome night."
Ultimately, Democrats say they were able to win because they had the right issues on their side. Here's Senator-elect Schuyler VanValkenburg, who beat incumbent Republican Senator Siobhan Dunnavant.
"Folks want progress to continue," VanValkenburg said. "They want us to focus on the thing that matter, whether it's their kids schools, bringing down healthcare costs, creating a dynamic economy, protecting our environment, trying to reduce gun violence. And they certainly don't want us taking away women's rights."
In the Richmond suburb of Henrico, incumbent Senator and OBGYN Siobhan Dunnavant blamed her trailing votes on recent redistricting and refused to concede despite the TV’s behind her showing she’d lost to VanValkenburg.
“We knew going in this district was redrawn at a D+8," Dunnavant argued. "We overperformed that. We know it's going to take until tomorrow to figure out, but I wanted to come and see everybody because they’ve been at the polls all day like I was.”
Dunnavant left the party shortly after her speech, but Republican Delegate turned Senator-elect John McGuire, who ran unopposed in his rural Central Virginia district, said his party needs to work harder to meet Democrats on the early voting front.
“So this year, secure your vote, we got people to come in early. But there’s other things we’ve got to be doing," McGuire admitted. "So, we’re getting there.”
McGuire also suggested working across the aisle could help voters come back to the GOP. They’ll have to in order to get anything passed as it appears the Blue Wall will once again offer a roadblock to much of Governor Glenn Youngkin’s conservative plans.