Voting Virginia House of Delegates, Flipping the State Legislature, and Putting the “Red Column” to the Test: The Case for Reproductive Health
Virginia Democrats have maintained their control of the state Senate and flipped the state House, consolidating their grip on the state legislature in what will remain divided government.
The entire 140-seat legislature was up for grabs. The elections received significant national interest, with prominent Democrats like President Biden and former President Barack Obama boosting their party with emails and phone calls.
In a few states with off-year elections, abortion access appears to be a winning issue because of the Supreme Court’s decision last year to overturn the 40-year-old law.
Gov. Glenn Youngkin has supported a proposal to ban most abortions after 15 weeks, with some exceptions, and heavily campaigned with Republicans to try to win a trifecta government in Richmond, Va.
Don Scott, the minority leader of House Democrats, told NPR Democratic candidates had “the message, the candidates, and the momentum to put a stop to the extreme Republicans’ agenda.”
Scott is the most likely speaker of the House. He would be the first Black speaker in the Virginia House of Delegates if elected.
In what became one of the most closely watched campaigns of the year, Ohio voters approved a ballot initiative putting protections for reproductive health decisions in the state constitution, including abortion at least until fetal viability.
With the entire legislature up for re-election, Democrats managed to take control of the state House of Delegates while maintaining control of the state Senate – an important goal for abortion rights supporters in a state with a divided legislature and a Republican governor.
“Ohio is the first state that I really think we can put in that red column that has said, ‘We can go on offense, and we can win,'” Hall says. “That example makes a difference on the path for other red states.”
When Republican lawmakers put a question on the ballot in Ohio, it would have made it more difficult to amend the state constitution. The proposal was soundly rejected by Ohio voters.
Andy Beshear, a Democrat, was re-elected as Kentucky governor, despite opposition from the state’s Republican attorney general who supports strict abortion laws in court.
A young woman in an emotional ad talked about her experience of being raped by a family member at the age of 12. She pointed out that the Kentucky abortion law contains no exceptions for rape and incest, and anyone who believes in it could never understand what it’s like to live with it.
Last year, in another likely sign that the state’s abortion laws are out of step with public opinion, Kentucky voters rejected a ballot initiative seen as unfriendly to abortion rights.
In Mississippi, meanwhile, the incumbent Republican Gov. Tate Reeves also won re-election. The Democratic candidate was a relative of Elvis who was against abortion rights.
With the fight over abortion policy increasingly playing out in state legislatures and courts, abortion rights advocates have been paying closer attention to state Supreme Court races.
This year, in Pennsylvania, Democrat Dan McCaffery won an open seat on the state Supreme Court after Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union invested in digital ads backing McCaffery over Republican Carolyn Carluccio. The state’s governor is a democrat, but groups for abortion rights want to make it easier to get the procedure.