With a newly-blue Virginia legislature, how will lawmakers tackle the hot topics on the table?

Virginia Politics

RICHMOND, Va. (WAVY) — Last November, Election Day — which has been called a “blue wave” — flipped the majority General Assembly of Virginia.

The big blue Democratic wave flipped the 100-seat Virginia House of Delegates. Democrats picked up six seats and now lead Republicans 55 to 45. The wave also flipped the state Senate: Democrats picked up two seats and now lead Republicans 21 to 19.

So, what caused that blue wave?

“We’ve got to have common sense gun control,” said Democratic Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax presides over the State Senate. “Gun safety measures need to be put in place. The people have spoken.”

Del. Barry Knight, (R-81st District), disagrees.

“I think he is misreading it,” Knight said. “I think more people were upset about Donald Trump and with the inaction in Washington.”

Now that Republicans are out of the majority, Knight is in political limbo, and at the mercy of Democrats who will assign committees.

“I was on appropriations, general laws, rules, and agriculture [committees], and I was the sub-committee chair on each, and now I don’t know where I will be,” Knight said.

Whatever the reason is for the new Democratic majority, and it brings up the question: What kind of rulers will they be?

Republican state Sen. Tommy Norment — the former Senate majority leader — says he expects respect.

“They know I’m credible, they know I will try to do what’s right, but if you try to back me into a corner I’m going to try to politically tear your heart out,” Norment said.  

Norment has been in some politically powerful roles in Virginia. He was Senate majority leader, and co-chair of the State Finance Committee, but the new Democratic majority has changed that.

“I do think a lot of this, 2020 is going to be an opportunity to get some of this political venom and expectation out of your system before we can get
down and really do business,” Norment said.

Bipartisanship must prevail in order for the session to be successful. For example, Norment, Knight, and state Sen. Louise Lucas, a Democrat, are working together to write and push through a legislative bill for casinos.

“We are not insane legislators. We are common sense legislators,” Lucas told 10 On Your Side.

Now that Democrats control the General Assembly, Lucas has a new position. She is the first African American and first woman to be president pro tempore of the Senate. In that position, she presides over the Senate when the lieutenant governor, Fairfax, is absent.

Lucas says Democrats want to do what is in the best interest of voters like Melanie Cornelisse, a Virginia volunteer from Moms Demand Action, a group that advocates for common sense gun laws.

“We worked really hard in the last election cycle to flip both House and Senate to have some gun sense candidates in the place,” Cornelisse said.

“We have a Democratic majority, but are they a progressive majority?” Dr. James Fedderman with the Virginia Education Association asked. He expects education to be the priority, but he has concerns with Gov. Ralph Northam’s proposed budget that gives no teacher pay raise in the first year of the budget.

Fedderman says that’s not what he fought for at the polls.

“If they don’t do what they say, that is absolutely correct, then we will do what we have done in the past, we will vote them out.”

In the end, 10 On Your Side asked Norment what will be the headline at the end of the 60-day 2020 General Assembly session.

“Well, the big blue wave has crested, and now it is going to smooth out in an ebb and flow tide,” Norment said.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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