The Latest: Democrats win control of Virginia statehouse

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — The Latest on Virginia’s legislative elections (all times local):

10 p.m.

Virginia Democrats are taking full control of the statehouse for the first time in more than two decades.

Democrats won majorities in both the state House and Senate in Tuesday’s legislative election. This is the third election in a row that Virginia Democrats have made significant gains since President Donald Trump was elected.

The win will give Democrats control of the legislature and governorship for the first time in 26 years. Democrats have pledged to pass new gun restrictions and raise the minimum wage once in power.

Virginia is the only state with legislative elections this year where partisan control was up for grabs. Much of the contest centered on how voters feel about Trump and his possible impeachment.


9:25 p.m.

Virginia Democrats have taken control of the state Senate for the first time in five years.

Democrats flipped the Senate on Tuesday. Control of the state House is still unknown as officials continue to count votes in key races.

Of four states having legislative elections this year, Virginia is the only one where control of the statehouse is up for grabs.

Prior to the election, Republicans had a slim majority in both the state House and Senate.

Democrats are hoping to take total control of the statehouse and Executive Mansion for the first time in more than two decades.

Voter animosity toward President Donald Trump has powered Democratic gains in Virginia in recent elections.


9:14 p.m.

A community college administrator and first-time candidate has unseated a Republican incumbent in a competitive Richmond-area state Senate race.

Ghazala Hashmi defeated Sen. Glen Sturtevant Tuesday in a key win for Democrats hoping to flip control of the Senate.

Hashmi campaigned heavily on education, gun violence prevention, and health care, criticizing Sturtevant for his vote against Medicaid expansion.

Hashmi immigrated to the U.S. from India as a child. The state party says she will be the first Muslim-American woman to serve in the Senate.

Sturtevant, an attorney, took office in 2016. He promised to be an independent voice in the Senate and made opposition to a Richmond city schools rezoning plan a key part of his campaign.


9:10 p.m.

The powerful Republican Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates has fended off a challenge from a vocal gun control advocate.

Speaker Kirk Cox defeated Sheila Bynum-Coleman on Tuesday.

His win comes despite the fact the two were competing in a redrawn district after courts found that the GOP-led Virginia House illegally packed black voters into certain districts when they drew legislative boundaries in 2011. The new map dramatically shifted the makeup of the once safely Republican district to Democrats’ advantage.

Cox, a retired schoolteacher, has served his district south of Richmond since 1990.

Bynum-Coleman is a mother of five whose daughter survived being shot in 2016. She made gun control a central part of her campaign.


9 p.m.

A Democratic challenger has unseated one of the state’s most powerful Republican lawmakers to earn a seat in the Virginia House.

Clinton Jenkins, an Army veteran who runs a real estate company, defeated Del. Chris Jones on Tuesday.

As chairman of the House appropriations committee, Jones has outsized influence in how Virginia spends its money every year. A pharmacist from Suffolk, he has served in the House since 1998.

Jones and Jenkins competed in a district redrawn after courts found that the GOP-led Virginia House illegally packed black voters into certain districts. The new map shifted the makeup of the district to Democrats’ advantage.


8:32 p.m.

A GOP legislative candidate who won after his name was drawn from a bowl, cementing Republican control of the House of Delegates, has lost his bid for re-election.

Democrat Shelly Simonds defeated Republican Del. David Yancey in Tuesday’s race for the 94th District. The contest was a rematch after Simonds lost the tiebreaker two years ago.

The district was recently redrawn by a federal court, making it friendly to Democrats.


8:28 p.m.

A Democratic state delegate has won a race to fill an open northern Virginia state Senate seat previously held by a Republican.

Del. John Bell on Tuesday defeated GOP opponent Geary Higgins, whom President Donald Trump endorsed in a tweet earlier in the week.

His win marks a pickup for Democrats who are trying to wrest control of the Senate from Republicans. The seat was left open after far-right Sen. Dick Black announced he would not seek re-election in the district that covers Loudoun and Prince William counties.

Bell, a retired Air Force officer, has served in the House since 2016.

Higgins is a member of the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors and vice president of labor relations for the National Electrical Contractors Association


7 p.m.

Polls have closed in Virginia’s closely watched elections that will determine which party controls the state legislature.

As long as a voter was in line by Tuesday’s 7 p.m. closing time, that person will be able to vote.

Republicans currently have a slim majority in both the state House and Senate. Every seat in both chambers is on the ballot.

Democrats are hoping to take total control of the statehouse for the first time in more than two decades. They have promised to take action on issues Republicans have blocked in the past, including passing stricter gun laws, raising the minimum wage and ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment.

Republicans have warned of higher taxes and virtually no restrictions on third-trimester abortions if they lose the majority.


2:20 p.m.

Republican officials are seeking an injunction to delay the counting of absentee ballots in one eastern Virginia County.

The request came in a court filing after a lawyer for the state Republican Party asked the Accomack County commonwealth’s attorney last month to investigate whether a local Democratic committee official illegally requested and filled out absentee ballots for others.

Debra Wharton, a member of the Accomack County Democratic Committee, referred questions Tuesday to state party officials. A spokesman for the Virginia Democratic Party did not immediately respond to email and telephone messages.

County registrar Patricia White said that absent a court order, her office plans to process absentee ballots as it normally does when polls close Tuesday night.


11:45 a.m.

Virginia’s elections commissioner says there were a couple of early hiccups as residents began voting Tuesday.

Commissioner Christopher Piper says there was a problem with poll books in six precincts in Stafford County early Tuesday, resulting in some voters receiving the wrong ballots. He says the problem was quickly diagnosed and fixed, but that the wrong ballots that were cast cannot be reclaimed.

Piper also says that one precinct in Richmond with two Senate district races briefly ran out of ballots for one district, but that 1,200 additional ballots were delivered within about 15 minutes.


10:15 a.m.

Donald Trump is clearly on the minds of some Virginia voters casting ballots to decide which party controls the statehouse.

Gary Keener, who lives in a suburb of Richmond, called Trump a “baboon” on Tuesday. But he also says he’s not sure that impeachment is the way to get rid of Trump, and that voting him out of office is the way to go.

Keener and his wife Marthanne say 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 presence in Virginia’s election.

Both say they voted for Democrats Debra Rodman for state Senate and Schuyler VanValkenburg for House of Delegates.


9 a.m.

Virginian residents are voting to decide which party should control the statehouse in a widely watched contest that will test how voters feel about President Donald Trump and his possible impeachment.

Polls opened at 6 a.m. Tuesday in what’s become a marquee warm up for the 2020 election cycle.

Republicans currently have a slim majority in both the state House and Senate.

Democrats are hoping to take total control of the statehouse and Executive Mansion for the first time in more than two decades.

Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam says a vote for Democrats is a vote for common sense gun safety legislation, adequately funded schools, more access to early childhood education, and a pay raise for working families.