RICHMOND, Va. (WAVY) — Virginia politics will look much different once the new session begins. It’s a major shift in politics, one that the commonwealth hasn’t seen in decades. It has Democrats talking about getting work done on issues that were shot down in the past.
On Wednesday, Governor Ralph Northam said it was “an exciting day for Virginia.” Democrats gained two seats in the Senate and six in the House, giving them control of the General Assembly.
Northam began the cabinet meeting by promising voters that the cabinet will work to make Virginia proud.
“I really believe that we have a unique opportunity in the next two years,” said Northam. “The landscape has changed and now we have a majority in both the House and the Senate and we will continue to work on the initiatives and make Virginia, who we already know is the best state in the best country in the world.”
Northam outlined some of his goals for the next two years. Those include criminal justice reform, decriminalizing marijuana, tackling the opioid epidemic.
He said, “People have asked me often, what is our largest challenge in Virginia, especially regarding health care. My response has always been that the opioid and addiction challenges.”
Northam believes voters turned out at the polls because they want to see gun reform, which is something he’s promising to work on.
“Universal background checks are something that we know will save lives,” Northam said. “Assault weapons, these high capacity magazines don’t need to be in our society on our streets. Red flag laws, extreme risk laws that we refer to, one gun a month,” Northam said.
Old Dominion University political scientist Dr. Ben Melusky says Northam and the Democratic party should be able to shape policy because of last night’s wins.
“That gives them working margins,” Melusky said. “It allows the Governor, it allows the Democratic Party a little bit of leeway as it comes to policy especially from members that are maybe in close districts.”
The governor said he has relationships with people on both sides of the aisle and he is looking forward to working with anyone who wants to do positive things for Virginia.