Virginia’s legislative elections made national headlines on November 7th, as voters cast ballots in the first election since the district lines were redrawn in 2021. That process – known as redistricting – made some districts more “competitive” and created new districts, some without an incumbent legislator, and others with two or three incumbents in the same district.
As a result, by June 2023, an unprecedented number of legislators had either retired or been defeated in their party’s nominating contest, setting the stage for a historic level of turnover in the House of Delegates and State Senate, and the loss of over 635 years of institutional knowledge.
Between June and November 7th, Republicans vied for a “trifecta” – control over the House, Senate, and the Governorship – while Democrats looked to take back the majority in the House, putting more checks and balances on the Youngkin Administration’s policy priorities.
Key Takeaways on the November Election and Impact on Upcoming General Assembly Session
New Faces: Fifty-three (53) new legislators will join the legislature this year, nearly 40% of the entire state legislature. This includes thirty-six (36) new House members and seventeen (17) new Senators, one of the largest freshman classes in recent history.
*This includes Delegate-Elect David Owen (R – Henrico), past President of the Home Builders Association of Virginia, who was elected to represent the 57th District in the House of Delegates.
House Turns “Blue”: Democrats reclaimed the majority in the House of Delegates, marking the third “flip” in the past 25 years – all of which have occurred since 2020. Democrats will begin the 2024 Session with a 51-49 majority.
Senate Stays Blue: Senate Democrats retained their narrow majority and will have a 21-19 majority for the 2024 Session.
Leadership Transition in the House and Senate: The wave of retirements and November election results triggered sweeping changes to the leadership of the Republican and Democratic caucuses in both chambers.
In the House of Delegates, Democrats unanimously elected Delegate Don Scott (D – Portsmouth) to serve as Speaker of House of Delegates. Scott will be the first Black speaker in the General Assembly’s 400-year history. Northern Virginia Delegates Charniele Herring and Kathy Tran will serve as Majority Leader and Caucus Chair, respectively.
Republican Todd Gilbert, currently Speaker of the House, will assume the role of Minority Leader when the legislature convenes in January. Delegate Amanda Batten was re-elected as Caucus Chair and Delegate Michael Webert was re-elected as Republican Whip.
In the Senate, Democrats elected Senator Scott Surovell (D – Fairfax) as their new Majority Leader, succeeding their longtime Leader, Senator Dick Saslaw (D – Fairfax), who retired earlier in the year. Senator Mamie Locke (D – Hampton) will serve as Caucus Chair and Senator Adam Ebbin (D – Northern Virginia) will serve as the Caucus Vice Chair. Senator Lamont Bagby (D – Richmond) and Senator Barbara Favola (D – Arlington) were named Democratic Whips, while Senator Aaron Rouse (D – Virginia Beach) will serve as Caucus Secretary.
Republicans elected Senator Ryan McDougle ( R – Hanover) as their Minority Leader, succeeding the caucus’s longstanding leader, Senator Tommy Norment (R – James City), who also announced his retirement this year. Senator Mark Obenshain (R – Rockingham) was elected Caucus Chair, while Senators Bill Stanley (R – Franklin) and Bryce Reeves will serve as Whips for the Republican caucus.
Committee Membership Changes: The election outcome and historic turnover in both chambers will lead to a major overhaul of committee memberships for the 2024 Session. For example, 45% of the Delegates and Senators who served on the housing industry’s key committees in 2023 will not be returning next year.
Committee assignments will be determined over the next month, but Senate Democrats have already announced the chairs of all eleven (11) standing committees. (Committees marked with an asterisk (*) handle housing industry-related legislation)
Local Government*: Senator Jeremy McPike
Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources*: Senator David Marsden
General Laws and Technology*: Senator Adam Ebbin
Finance and Appropriations*: Senator Louise Lucas
Commerce and Labor*: Senator Creigh Deeds
Education and Health: Senator Ghazala Hashmi
Judiciary: Senator Scott Surovell
Privileges and Elections: Senator Aaron Rouse
Rehabilitation and Social Services: Senator Barbara Favola
Rules: Senator Mamie Locke
Transportation: Senator Jennifer Boysko
*The Home Builders Association of Virginia will continue to update this post as more information becomes available*