RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Gov. Ralph Northam laid out his vision Wednesday for a changing Virginia a day after Democrats seized control of the General Assembly for the first time in more than two decades.

Northam, speaking at a Cabinet meeting, promised swift action on a host of liberal policy proposals, with a particular emphasis on gun control measures.

He said Democratic gains were largely powered by voters who wanted to see commonsense gun laws enacted and noted that Republicans adjourned a special session earlier this year called in response to a mass shooting in Virginia Beach in less than 90 minutes "with no results."

"The landscape has changed," Northam said.

Democratic leaders say Virginians should also expect a higher minimum wage and greater abortion rights after their gains Tuesday. They also promised ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment, making Virginia the final state needed for possible passage of the gender equality measure.

Tuesday's victory extended the Democrats' winning streak under President Donald Trump. The party will now have full control of the statehouse for the first time in 26 years.

Suburban voters turned out in big numbers to back Democratic candidates, continuing a trend of once GOP-friendly suburbs turning blue. This is the third election in a row in which Virginia Democrats made significant gains since Trump was elected.

The Democrats' big win was a warning sign for the president and Republicans ahead of next year's election. Higher-educated and more affluent suburban voters — particularly women — have revolted against Trump's GOP both in Virginia and nationwide. The suburbs leaned Republican in the past but have become a key battleground amid shifting demographics and Trump's turbulent presidency.

Tuesday was a rough night for many suburban Republicans in Virginia. Del. Tim Hugo lost his spot as the last Republican representing Fairfax County, northern Virginia's most populous suburban jurisdiction.

Of the four states with legislative elections this year, Virginia was the only one where control of the statehouse was up for grabs. Republicans lost their slim majorities in both the state House and Senate.

National groups, particularly those aligned with Democrats, pumped huge amounts of money into the contests to test-drive expensive messaging and get-out-the-vote campaigns ahead of the 2020 balloting. Gun control and clean-energy groups affiliated with former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg spent several million dollars helping Democrats.

Virginia also drew several high-profile visits from 2020 presidential hopefuls, including former Vice President Joe Biden, as well as current Vice President Mike Pence.

Trump tried to rally Republicans via Twitter but stayed out of Virginia, a state he lost in 2016.

The only candidate Trump endorsed by name, Republican Geary Higgins, was handily defeated in a northern Virginia Senate district previously held by the GOP.

Gary Keener and wife Marthanne Huffines-Keener, of Glen Allen, a suburb just north of Richmond, said they voted Republican for years but have voted Democrat since the 2008 election of former President Barack Obama. They said Trump definitely had a large impact on Virginia's election.

"We didn't want to make that our only reason for coming out," Keener said. "But he's a baboon. We do some traveling, and wherever we go, we're embarrassed."

Republicans hoped an off-year election with no statewide candidates on the ballot would help defuse the anti-Trump energy that powered previous cycles. GOP lawmakers also bet on the specter of a possible Trump impeachment providing a last-minute surge by motivating the Republican base. Republicans were able to hold on to several seats in close races but expressed disappointment with the overall outcome of the night.

House Majority Leader Todd Gilbert on Tuesday predicted that Democrats would pursue an "extreme agenda" that would undo Republican efforts to make Virginia a business-friendly state.

"Virginians should expect public policies that look a lot more like the train-wreck that is California than the Virginia of good fiscal management and common-sense conservative governance," Gilbert said in a statement.

Democrats were keenly focused on gun issues during the election, saying Republicans should be held accountable for failing to pass new restrictions after the Virginia Beach shooting.

Republicans accused Democrats of trying to use the tragedy for political gain, especially in light of Northam's blackface scandal, while focusing heavily on past Democratic efforts to loosen restrictions for third-trimester abortion.

The Democratic victories Tuesday will make the legislature more diverse. Sen.-elect Ghazala Hashmi is the first Muslim-American woman to serve in the Senate. Del. Danica Roem, who made history as the first openly transgender person elected and seated in a U.S. state legislature, easily won reelection.

Jenne Nurse, a 25-year-old who recently accepted a state government job, said she's excited about the increasing diversity.

"It's nice to see the Virginia Legislature look like Virginia. It's so important," said Nurse, who is black.

Tuesday's election could help cement Democratic rule for the next decade, because the winners will decide who controls the next redistricting process. Lawmakers approved a proposed constitutional amendment this year that would create a new bipartisan commission empowered to draw legislative and congressional maps. Democrats have to sign off on it again next year before presenting it to voters.

———

Associated Press writers Sarah Rankin and Denise Lavoie contributed to this report.

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(32) comments

WisdomGuidedByExperience

Doesn't the ERA duplicate the existing 14th ammendment?

amerigirl

Not according to constitutional scholars. The 14th only guarantees equality in citizenship and voting. The ERA would give equal rights in everything, including pay.

ChickenChucker

I want to congratulate all the liberals who won their seats or positions in this election, no screamIng for impeachment or the like. Just simple congratulations and no suggestion of any wrong doing. Good clean race. I would lIke to propose that for the next four that all parties just debate the issues and leave politics out of all issues that affect only Loudoun County like Sheriff"s Office vs Police Department, LCPS, Development, and whatever is strictly a local issue. No name calling and no telling everybody they are wrong. If you think someone is wrong offer an alternative solution, don't tell some one their facts are wrong, tell us why yours are right. If our politicians can't do this, vote all of them out at next election. Show the politicians that your principles are worth something. Are there any citizens that can do this. One step at a time. I don't think the there are many that can, prove me I'm wrong. To open things up, I would prefer a police department over sheriff, much lies political, too would have to change Constitution because Sheriff is Constitutional office in order to eliminate. Police Department has problems, too. LCSS is terrible. I'll leave that to those with school children, firing squads may be the place to start, kidding but they are that bad.

workhardgetahead

If you think they are coming for the guns guess again, they are coming for our wallets.

amerigirl

I don't know who you think "they" are but I have asked you to say who wants your guns before and you couldn't answer me. Keep your wallet, I have my own.

workhardgetahead

The Socialist democrats are coming for your guns and wallet. They already said so.

And Amerigirl, I'm glad you gave your own wallet, you can pay my share when the tax bill comes. I'll keep more of my own money. RESIST!!!

workhardgetahead

Have not gave

ace10

Pathological liar.

RoundHillGuy

#RESIST!

amerigirl

work, you have no right to call anyone a liar when you won't even fact check or find reputable sources. All you do is promote conspiracy theories.

amerigirl

Sorry work that was meant for ace.

amerigirl

work , you are so good at alarming people over conspiracy theories. Like I said before you can't show anyone that is after you guns. All you are doing is adding more to your conspiracy theory. Special!

Alex Jones

COME AND TAKE IT!

amerigirl

[huh]????????? take what? from who?

BobOhneiserEsq

Hey Gov, Let's change something - stop ripping off Loudoun by using the composite index to strip away hundreds of millions per year of sales tax funds Loudoun is due back to support our schools. We have a $4.4 billion backlog in needed school construction and all you seem interested in what color the state is. How about giving Loudoun back some green? :-)

Locojrt

Bob, you didn't win but you seem to be very savvy about this...can we sue them or force some sort of actuon to remedy this? If all these elected people really want Loudoun better, wouldn't it behoove them, and us, to get this fixed! That money us OURS! On the flip sude, if we got it would it line the same pockets or would it actually be used for things we need (p.s. NOT 100 roundabouts on congested roads where no one enforces traffic laws. Sorry, I digressed...)

amerigirl

The governor may make the budget proposal but The General Assembly increases or decreases proposed funding levels. It's the House Appropriations Committee that determines the distribution to elementary and secondary school. They send it back to the assembly for approval. You are asking the wrong person(s).

marv

I congratulate all the winners of the election and hope/pray that they adhere to their oath of office to support ad defend the Constitution and never resort to petty partisan politics.

RoundHillGuy

Looks like wearing blackface is only bad if you have an "R" in front of your name. Otherwise, no one really cares.

amerigirl

People look at what your actions are now, not when you were a kid. You need to get over it.

Jeanne T

College students aren't kids, amerigirl. They are adults.

workhardgetahead

I thought they were going after Justice Kavanaugh for actions he was falsely accused when he was a teenager! Democrats are hypocrites. Let's really show them what real resistance is. Yea, I agree, come and get it

mopar19

Wish more people would think that way. They would be over Kavanaugh by now.

amerigirl

Okay Jeanne, barely (if) adults and not in an environment with much older adult supervision or counseling. I guess it's if you're considered an adult at 18 or 21. Sometimes I forget because my kids skipped grades and graduated younger.

amerigirl

Work & mopar, who even mentioned Kavanaugh? But he did lie about it, at least Northam was honest. [offtopic]

workhardgetahead

He was 24!!!!

workhardgetahead

Kavanaugh didn't lie about it. If you believed

The moron, Blaisey Ford, you're intellectually dishonest.

RandomName2019

Northam's political career is over. Think of his remaining time as a redemption tour.

And if you're confused about the lack of outcry, perhaps it's because his blackface episodes don't also correspond with positions that align with the behavior. It's much easier to assume that a Republican in blackface is aligned with the darker aspects of the act. I wonder why?

amerigirl

Did you decide that for him? He is now, according to the news, one of the strongest Governors since the state went blue. If you really wonder why a Republican in blackface is aligned with the darker aspects of the act then you should realize that all these hate groups are referred to as alt-RIGHT for a reason

Arbiter9

"Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard." H. L. Mencken

trickydick

Mencken also wrote this:

“As democracy is perfected, the office [of President] represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. We move toward a lofty ideal. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.”

Maybe he was just repeating what he had written in the first quote?

Locojrt

People need to understand what ratifying the ERA REALLY entails! I learned some scary things from a response written a couple of weeks ago...don't expect 3 or 4 bathroom choices, co-ed prisons, I'm a woman and I'm sorry, but I appreciate the fact that in certain instances I am treated differently. The ERA does not guarantee that everybody makes the same money, etc. What I have learned is scary....

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