GLEN ALLEN, Va. (AP) — Virginia Democrats are hoping to hold on to their majority in the House of Delegates in an election Tuesday that is seen as a referendum on the sweeping progressive reforms the party has pushed through the legislature over the past two years.
Republicans are looking to take back what they lost two years ago, and have aggressively targeted 13 seats they see as competitive; they need to flip at least six to reclaim a majority. Democrats now hold a 55-45 majority.
The election is being closely watched as a measure of voters’ satisfaction with numerous reforms Democrats have passed, including reforming the criminal justice system, loosening abortion restrictions, expanding voting access, legalizing marijuana and ending the death penalty.
Republicans had controlled the House since 2000, but Democrats won back 15 GOP-held seats in 2017, helped by voter hostility toward then-President Donald Trump. In 2019, Democrats took full control of the legislature by wiping out slim Republican majorities in the House and Senate.
In television ads, Republicans have attempted to depict Democrats as radical liberals who have swung once-conservative Virginia too far to the left.
Democratic incumbents face competitive races in northern Virginia, near Richmond, and in the Hampton Roads region. Seats in two of the last remaining predominantly rural districts held by Democrats were also considered up for grabs by Republicans.
There are nine uncontested seats, eight of them held by the GOP.
Democrats now hold a narrow 21-19 majority in the Senate, where members aren’t up for reelection until 2023.