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Exclusive: Virginia Gov. Youngkin talks GOP chances on Election Day

Gov. Glenn Youngkin told Scripps News that Republicans have a good chance of flipping the Senate while maintaining control of the House.
Exclusive: Virginia Gov. Youngkin talks GOP chances on Election Day
Posted at 10:57 AM, Nov 07, 2023

As voters in Virginia head to the polls Tuesday to cast ballots in the state's general and special elections, Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin appears confident his party can flip the state's General Assembly from purple to red.

Virginia is one of just two state legislatures in the United States where the House and Senate are controlled by opposing parties. Democrats currently hold a 22-18 majority in the state Senate, while Republicans have a 48-46 advantage in the House of Delegates.

But that all could change Tuesday when all 140 state seats are up for grabs.

Youngkin spoke with Scripps News in an exclusive interview ahead of Tuesday's election, and he's convinced that Republicans can flip command of the House while still maintaining control of the Senate.

"I view it [the election] as asking for an extension of our license to lead, which was granted to us in 2021. And I think we've delivered, I think we kept our promises, and we see great results," Youngkin said. "Therefore, I'm asking Virginians to give me a team in Richmond that will work with me, not against me. Allow us to hold our House and flip our Senate."

SEE MORE: Will Virginia remain a rare state with divided government?

It's been a rallying cry for Youngkin, who's been barnstorming Virginia in hopes of a Republican sweep in the deep purple state that President Joe Biden carried by 10 points in 2020. Touting his list of accomplishments ranging from tax cuts to pay raises for law enforcement officers, the former co-CEO of the Carlyle Group is also pushing for a more moderate approach to abortion, spending more than $1 million to pitch a common-sense solution to an issue that divided voters in the Midterms.

"I think we've come to a place with very reasonable limits that would protect life at 15 weeks when a child can feel pain," Youngkin added. "With full exceptions in the case of rape and incest and when the mother's life is at risk."

But it's an issue that has the governor at odds with some members of his own party, who have pushed for tighter restrictions. Meanwhile, a recent poll found most Virginians want to keep the current law in place that allows abortions up to 26 weeks into pregnancy. 

"I've been very clear. That [15 weeks] is the bill that I will sign. Our speaker of the House has been very clear. That is the bill that he will let out of the House. And so Virginians should be very clear that this is the bill that we would in fact enact," Youngkin added. "That's it."

SEE MORE: Abortion votes are causing a divide on state ballots across the US

In an off-year election where Virginia is seen as a preview of 2024, Youngkin says abortion isn't the only issue on the mind of voters.

"I believe that abortion is an important topic to some voters, but certainly not all of them," he said. "And in fact, the biggest topic that I hear about as I travel around campaigning is the result that Joe Biden's economy has had on their family, where we've seen inflation just run away from folks, where it costs them $700 more a month to buy the same things they were buying two years ago."

SEE MORE: US median household income falls for third straight year

Youngkin is also using his time on the road to recalibrate Republicans on the importance of utilizing mail-in ballots and early voting, something many GOP voters abandoned amid criticism by former President Donald Trump. And it seems to be working.  

As of last week, the share of early votes cast by likely-Republican voters in the state were up more than 2 percentage points from last year and mail-in votes by almost 4 percentage points, according to the Virginia Public Access Project. Youngkin's message: Elections are still safe and secure. 

"We have paper ballots in Virginia. We have counting machines, and none of them are hooked up to the internet. And so I just think this is going to be a very safe, secure election," he said. "I do think it'll take a little while because we have some really close races. And so we're going to try to get them counted as quickly as we can, but we may have some races that take until Wednesday — if not later — to make sure we know who the winner is."

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