June 6, 2023 News & Press Releases

ICYMI: Why Virginia’s General Assembly Elections Are So Critical This Year

by Democratic Party of Virginia

RICHMOND, VA – The American Independent recently sat down for a conversation with Senator Jennifer Boysko and Minority Leader Don Scott, where they shared their thoughts on what’s at stake in the General Assembly elections this November.

“After the Supreme Court’s Dobbs ruling last summer, there’s more at stake than ever before in Virginia,” said Liam Watson, Press Secretary for the Democratic Party of Virginia. “The General Assembly hangs in the balance, and the election this November will determine whether or not Democrats are able to stop Governor Youngkin’s far-right agenda for the remainder of his term.”

The American Independent’s article builds on earlier pieces with greater detail about how this year’s elections will determine the future of reproductive rights, gun violence prevention, LGBTQ+ equality, voting rights, and climate protections in Virginia for years to come.

The American Independent: Democrats warn of 'very frightening things' in Virginia if Republicans win legislature

June 5, 2023 | Josh Israel

Democratic Virginia state Sen. Jennifer Boysko does not want to imagine what her state might look like if Republicans regain full control of the legislature this November.

All 100 seats in Virginia’s House of Delegates and all 40 seats in its Senate will be on the ballot. Democrats currently hold a 22-18 Senate majority, Republicans narrowly control the House, and Republican Glenn Youngkin’s term as governor runs through January 2026.

“I think there are a lot of very frightening things in our future if we do not hold the majority in the Senate, and if we don’t have a successful election year for the Democrats. I think there are really five areas,” Boysko told the American Independent Foundation: reproductive rights, gun violence prevention, LGBTQ+ equality, voting rights, and climate protections.

“And a sixth would be the economy,” she added. “I think he wants to shift all the revenues that we have to serve our community into tax cuts for big corporations.”

Don Scott, the Democratic minority leader in the Virginia House of Delegates, shares Boysko’s concerns, especially as North Carolina’s and South Carolina’s GOP-controlled legislatures have just passed abortion bans.

“We’re the last bastion in the South for this fight,” Scott observed. “If Virginia goes down, this is the cradle of the Confederacy. We need to understand where we are here. This is a last opportunity in the South for us to get this right and become a bulwark against the extremists that want to take us back.”

Scott called Virginia a purple state, noting that Democrats have controlled the House of Delegates for just two years out of the past 22.

But during that brief period, between January 2020 and December 2021, Democrats also controlled the Senate and held the governorship and were able to enact a significant amount of progressive legislation that made it easier to access reproductive health care, banned anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination, made it easier to vote, expanded background checks for firearms, and enrolled Virginia in an interstate compact to reduce carbon emissions.

Since Youngkin took office in 2022, he and the Republican majority in the House have tried to repeal or roll back many of those achievements.

Youngkin told the right-wing Family Foundation of Virginia in June 2022, “Any bill that comes to my desk I will sign happily and gleefully in order to protect life.” On May 8, 2023, he claimed, “There seems to be substantial support across Democrats, across Republicans, men and women, for a bill that would protect life in 15 weeks,” though polls show just 17% of Virginia voters want stricter abortion laws.

“We are the last southern state in the nation who still allows abortion care without onerous restrictions,” Boysko noted.

“[Youngkin] has tried to take us back, to take women’s fundamental freedoms and fundamental rights backwards, and I think that would be the number one thing that would be the most impactful for Virginia,” Scott said. “It would be disastrous for Virginia’s women and for all of those who care about women.”

Scott observed that Youngkin’s attacks on LGBTQ+ rights are driving teachers away from Virginia schools. If given a majority, he expects attacks on the community similar to those put into legislation by anti-LGBTQ+ Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis in Florida. “It would be no surprise to me that he would try to implement some of the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ rules that DeSantis has done. They’ve already passed book ban bills here, the same thing that DeSantis has done. So I would not be surprised to see them continue their attacks on LGBTQ freedom, because that’s what they do. They’re bullies,” he said.

During his 2021 campaign, Youngkin cited DeSantis as a role model. “I think Gov. DeSantis has done a lot of really impressive things to lead,” he told Washington, D.C., radio station WMAL in an interview later excerpted in ads run by his Democratic opponent, former Gov. Terry McAuliffe. “And this is where I look to lead as governor.”

“It’s just, again, we are at ground zero here in Virginia,” Boysko concluded. “What happens in Virginia, everybody’s going to be looking towards for 2024. The stakes are just too high on all of these issues that we talked about.”