Following a Big Night for Democrats, Governor Northam Looks Ahead

Nov 6, 2019

Governor Ralph Northam addresses members of his cabinet following Tuesday's statehouse elections. He outlined some of his key priorities for the General Assembly, which Democrats now control for the first time in decades.
Credit Mallory Noe-Payne / RADIO IQ

Now that Democrats have unified power in Virginia, they’re looking forward to their legislative agenda. Governor Ralph Northam laid out his priorities at a cabinet meeting Wednesday.

Governor Northam stepped into the cabinet meeting with a smile.

“Hope everybody had a restful night," Northam said, followed by some laughter.

He told his executive team he wants to make it easier to vote, reduce the cost of healthcare, and increase access to pre-K.

Speaking to reporters after, Northam says he also wants Virginia to raise the minimum wage and ratify the Equal Rights Amendment.

“That’s something that never really made it to the floor for a vote," he explained. "And I think it’s one of those things that a lot of these pieces of legislation if we get it to the floor and let people vote then it will become law. And so Virginia will be next in line to pass the ERA.”

The Governor says he’s willing to work with anyone who has good ideas, but make no mistake about it, Democrats are in charge. 

“The energy was and still is out there. And so Virginia is blue. I want everybody to know that,” Northam said.

The Democratic governor believes his party’s gains on Election Night were largely powered by voters who want common-sense gun laws.

Northam said he plans to push the same gun safety laws he proposed during a special session of the General Assembly earlier this year – a direct response to a May mass shooting in Virginia Beach.

"Just to go through some of those; obviously universal background checks, assault weapons -- these high capacity magazines don't need to be in our society, on our streets; red flag laws, one gun a month," Northam said Wednesday.

Republicans dismissed that special session almost immediately – without deliberating gun safety proposals from Northam and other lawmakers.

The true test for how progressive this new agenda will be comes in January — when the first Democratic-led General Assembly in decades convenes in Richmond.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.