Prince William County voters flipped two of the three remaining state seats held by Republicans in Northern Virginia, helping Democrats gain control of both houses of the Virginia General Assembly for the first time in decades.
Democrats picked up six seats in the House of Delegates Tuesday, giving them a 55-45 majority, and won two additional seats in the state Senate, giving them a slim 21-19 majority.
In the 13th District state Senate race, Del. John Bell, D-87th, flipped the seat, beating his GOP opponent Geary Higgins with 54 to 45 percent of the vote. Sen. Dick Black (R) currently represents the 13th district. He announced his retirement earlier this year.
Democrats had targeted the seat as a possible flip, pouring money into the race. Bell raked in nearly $2.5 million in campaign contributions in 2019.
Bell, speaking at Heritage Hunt precinct in Gainesville Tuesday, said voters connected with his message on gun violence in the state and the need to enact commonsense gun reforms.
“I’ve run on that issue. People have been afraid to talk about that issue, but we have to talk about it because it’s dangerous for our communities and people are dying every day,” Bell said. “It’s really about representing people and working on issues they want you to work on.”
Higgins was endorsed by President Donald Trump via Twitter on Monday.
“Great Republican Geary Higgins has my complete and total Endorsement for Virginia Senate, 13th District. He is strong on Crime, the Border, our Military, Cutting Taxes, and protecting your 2nd Amendment. Dem John Bell will take your guns & raise your taxes. Vote for Geary Higgins,” Trump tweeted.
40th House of Delegates district
Democrat Dan Helmer was elected to the House of Delegates in the 40th district, beating longtime incumbent and Republican Caucus Chair Del. Tim Hugo, who has served as delegate since 2002.
During his campaign, Helmer advocated for commonsense gun reforms, increasing teacher pay and continuing the state’s expansion of Medicaid.
Hugo was one of the last Republican holdouts in Northern Virginia, which has become increasingly Democratic over the last decade. Democrats had been trying to flip the seat since Hugo’s narrow win over Democrat Donte Tanner in 2017 by only 99 votes.
Democrats re-elected in Prince William area districts
Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy, D-2nd, was re-elected Tuesday, beating GOP challenger Heather Mitchell.
Foy, a criminal defense lawyer, was elected in 2017 in a Democratic wave election that saw Democrats come within two seats of controlling the House of Delegates and State Senate.
Foy, 37, led an effort to pass the Equal Rights Amendment in Virginia in 2019 that ultimately came up short. If re-elected, Foy said she will lead another attempt to get the ERA approved.
Del. Danica Roem, D-13th, was re-elected Tuesday, beating her GOP challenger Kelly McGinn.
Roem, the first transgender woman to serve in the Virginia General Assembly, was first elected in 2017 after ousting longtime Republican incumbent Bob Marshall. Marshall was a supporter of anti-LGBTQ policies.
Roem, 35, speaking at a polling station in Gainesville Tuesday, said her re-election could largely be chalked up to delivering on promises made in her 2017 campaign.
“We expanded Medicaid to 400,000 people including 3,800 of my constituents. We raised teacher pay. Both things we campaigned on,” Roem said. “We got something for Route 28. When you see the study’s coming out, when you see the progress that’s already being made, you know that we’re making steps in the right direction while acknowledging that there is still a lot of fight left ahead.”
Del. Elizabeth Guzman, D-31st, was re-elected Tuesday, beating her GOP opponent D.J. Jordan.
Guzman, an immigrant from Peru, and Del. Hala Ayala, D-51st, were the first Latinas ever elected to the Virginia General Assembly and two of 10 new Democratic women elected in a 2017 wave year for Democrats.
Ayala, a cybersecurity specialist, was elected in 2017 after defeating former delegate Rich Anderson, who served in the House of Delegates from 2009 until 2017. This year’s race was a rematch, but Ayala won by a larger margin, garnering 54 percent of the vote to Anderson’s 45.37 percent.
Ayala ran on a platform of improving healthcare, education and transportation in Virginia and has advocated for commonsense gun reforms like universal background checks.
Del. Lee Carter, D-50th, was re-elected Tuesday, beating GOP challenger and current Manassas City Councilman Ian Lovejoy.
Carter was first elected in 2017, unseating longtime Republican incumbent Jackson Miller, and is the only self-proclaimed socialist currently serving in the Virginia General Assembly.
In his first term as delegate, Carter introduced a bill to repeal Virginia’s right-to-work law as well as a bill to fully legalize recreational use of marijuana for adults and decriminalize marijuana for citizens under the age of 21, neither of which passed.
Carter said he intends to introduce the right-to-work repeal again in 2020.
Del. Luke Torian, D-52nd, defeated his Republican challenger Maria Eugenia Martin Tuesday.
Torian, a pastor at First Mount Zion Baptist Church in Dumfries, has served in the House of Delegates since 2010. Torian serves on the House Appropriations, Rules and General Laws Committees.
Democrat Suhas Subramanyam defeated his GOP opponent Bill Drennan for control of the 87th House District Tuesday. The 87th district is currently held by Democrat John Bell who left the seat to run for state Senate in the 13th district.
Subramanyam, a small business owner and former White House technology policy advisor to President Obama, ran on a platform to improve education, healthcare and traffic in the region and across Virginia. In a September candidates' forum, Subramanyam said he supports strengthening gun background checks and laws preventing domestic abusers from accessing firearms.
Reach Daniel Berti at email@example.com