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Read more VPM News coverage of the historic 2023 elections in Virginia.

Youngkin 'disappointed’ by Election Day results

Glenn Youngkin behind a lectern holding out a hand while he speaks.
Scott Elmquist
VPM News
Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin spoke to the press at the Virginia State Capitol on Wednesday in Richmond. Tuesday night's unofficial election results are set to give Democrats full control of the General Assembly.

Virginia’s republican governor spoke at the capitol as Democrats may take legislative control in 2024.

This Election Day, Virginia voters handed control of the General Assembly to Democrats, leaving Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin in a state house divided from the goals his party outlined on the campaign trail.

Youngkin remarked on the unofficial, but likely election outcomes during a press conference from the steps of the Virginia State Capitol building Wednesday. The governor said he was “a little disappointed,” in the results, but Republicans’ losses did provide some insight on the commonwealth’s politics.

“I think the No. 1 lesson is that Virginia's really purple and that going into these elections, we knew that they were going to be tough,” Youngkin said.

Todd Gilbert, the Republican speaker of the House of Delegates, expressed a like-minded sentiment. In a statement, he said Tuesday’s outcome isn’t what the House Republican caucus had hoped for and vowed to “hold the line against the worst left-wing impulses.” (Gilbert has reportedly beaten Democratic challenger Bob Smith and will stay in the House to represent the new House District 33.)

“In the end, our focus on better schools, safer communities and lowering the cost of living couldn’t overcome a dishonest Democratic focus on a lone issue," the statement said.

This year Republicans rallied around the subjects Gilbert outlined as well as issues related to parents rights in education, tax relief and further abortion restrictions. Democrats were able to bolster their chances of fully retaking the statehouse by campaigning for increasing reproductive access.

Youngkin also indirectly dismissed any hopes of a 2024 presidential run, saying he’ll be solely focused on Virginia for the remainder of his term.

“My name is not on the ballot in New Hampshire, I have not been in Iowa. I'm not in South Carolina, I am in Virginia,” he said. “And I look forward to staying focused on Virginia, just like I have been."

Many Virginia Republicans had adopted the governor’s position on a 15-week abortion ban, which includes exceptions for rape, incest and the life of the mother. In January, three separate bills restricting abortion — including one 15-week measure backed by Youngkin — failed to pass the Virginia Senate. Youngkin made no mention of re-introducing said measure while speaking to reporters Wednesday.

When asked if Republicans' messaging around abortion proved to be a pivotal subject for Virginia voters, Youngkin said it’s clear that his constituents remain divided on the issue, but in the long term Virginians will find a way to come together on the issue.

“I think the message that everyone should recognize on abortion is that this is a very difficult topic across Virginia and across the nation,” he said. “I think Virginians don't want to be extreme either direction. I think they actually want to find a place to come together and that's what I think we tried to represent: reasonableness.”

Despite the divisive nature of politics in the commonwealth, Youngkin expressed optimism about coming together in a bipartisan fashion and vowed to work across party lines.

“I do believe that we can find that continued path to making Virginia the best place to live, work and raise a family.” Youngkin said. “I'm very proud of what we have accomplished together as a divided government that demonstrates that yes, we can do this, and I'm optimistic that we can continue to find a path forward.”

Lyndon German covers Henrico and Hanover counties for VPM News.