The new post-redistricting Virginia General Assembly that will take control in January, probably with a Democrat majority, will be the most ethnically, racially and religiously diverse group of legislators in Richmond in history, and about ¼ will be female.
In addition, some 52 of the 140 members of the General Assembly will be totally new to the State Capitol – most never having served in any elected office before.
This make-up is largely due to the huge number of retirements from the last GA, which was primarily forced by bipartisan redistricting in 2021, where a number of incumbents were placed in the same district and chose not to run against each other for re-election.
Whites will be the minority in the Democrat Caucus in each house, which also could be a first. The House of Delegates as a whole will be 67% white, down from 78% after the 2017 “Blue wave” elections, when Republicans maintained control by a coin toss – and that’s because the overwhelming number of Republicans are white.
In the State Senate, 30 of the 40 senators will be white in 2024, largely due to the Republican presence.
This analysis, based on examining the biographies of the new GA members on Ballotpedia, shows the following breakdown, though one race (the 82nd house race between incumbent Republican Kim Taylor and Democrat challenger Kim Adams) is headed to a recount with Taylor ahead by 78 votes
The lone Muslim female senator, Democrat Ghazala Hashmi, may face a residency challenge because she rented an apartment in the Democrat-friendly 15th district, where she won overwhelmingly on Nov. 8, but her actual residence is in the very GOP 12th, according to The Daily Wire.
Most noticeable are the large numbers of African-American legislators – 24 in the House of Delegates alone – for a state that was the center of the Confederacy and led the “resistance” against desegregation into the 1960s. At least two delegates are Muslim, as are two senators, one being the man who beat me, Saddam Salim, who is from Bangladesh.
What is more important than race, gender and religion is ideology and attitude. This GA is going to be much more liberal than the Democrat-controlled GA in 2020-21 because of the loss of moderates like Chap Petersen and George Barker in the state Senate.
The legislation the Democrats have pre-filed clearly demonstrates that – constitutional amendments to allow abortion on demand and to remove the 2006 constitutional amendment that prohibited same-sex marriage – which is largely symbolic at this point, since same-sex marriage was enshrined by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2015.
Just knowing what I know from prior experience, I can envision a lot of friction between some folks in the Old Southern Guard and these multicultural newbies.
Hopefully, Gov. Glenn Youngkin will use the veto in many cases, but much of what the Democrats passed in 2020-21 that moved Virginia into the column of “failing Blue state” is not going to change. This includes:
- Indoctrination and salacious books in schools, the creation of many school boards in this state and backed by teachers unions;
- Collective bargaining by local employee unions, thus raising taxes to pay for higher salaries and benefits and giving Democrats and unions a greater grip on city and county governing bodies;
- Virginia Clean Economy Act, which bodes higher utility rates to pay for Dominion’s windmill farms and requiring 35% of all vehicles sold by 2026 to be hybrid or electric;
- Continuance of putting the needs of criminals over the police in the name of “criminal justice reform” and ending “mass incarceration” of black males.
And, the Dillon Rule and right to work are on the potential chopping block – two policies that “Keep Virginia, Virginia – not New York.”
It is very evident from the composition of the new GA that this state has changed, and changed dramatically. The election of Youngkin-Sears-Miyares in 2021 might just be a flash in the pan for Republicans, who stand to lose statewide in 2025 unless things get so bad that the Northern Virginia and suburban electorate wake up.
But the Republican Party shares most of this blame by ignoring for years the demographic shifts in NoVa and the suburbs of Richmond and Hampton Roads. We have focused all-too-much on shoring up our base and fighting internal ideological battles and keeping the tent small and exclusive – with virtually all GOP local units and the RPV State Central Committee dominated by elderly white people.
The one saving grace from this election is that the online amateur porn star, Susanna Gibson, did not win a seat in the House of Delegates – but she came very close to beating the Republican, which (in itself) shows how the mindset of the Virginia electorate has changed.
Ken Reid is a former Loudoun County supervisor and Leesburg Town Councilmember who was the GOP nominee for State Senate in District 37 in Fairfax County in 2023. He also is a journalist by trade, and published newsletters in the FDA field for 30 years.