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OPINION

Virginia’s 2023 Elections Will Be Most Consequential in Recent Memory

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
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AP Photo/Steve Helber

While most of the country will take a break from elections in 2023, Virginians will head to the polls for what is set to be one of the most consequential cycles in recent memory. After two years of historic progress – often in spite of Democratic obstructionism – Republicans have a critical opportunity to capitalize on Governor Glenn Youngkin’s record of success by expanding their majority in the House of Delegates and flipping the state Senate. Just like Virginia’s elections in 2021, 2023 has the potential to set the tone for races throughout the country in 2024 and beyond.

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After two years of unified Democratic control of the legislature – and eight years of Democratic control of the governor’s mansion – the Republican resurgence in 2021 led by first-time politician Glenn Youngkin has revitalized our Commonwealth. On his first day in office, Governor Youngkin delivered on key campaign promises by requiring schools to reopen for in-person learning, ending the mask mandate, and rescinding draconian shutdown policies that had hampered Virginia’s economy. While COVID lockdowns are now thankfully a receding memory, it’s worth remembering that it was leaders like Governor Youngkin who provided an example for the rest of the country when it came to safely reopening businesses and getting kids back in school.

Since taking office, Governor Youngkin has also overseen historic investment in Virginia from dozens of companies creating thousands of jobs. In just the past month, a data analytics company announced an expansion creating 150 new jobs in Arlington County, a roofing company launched an expansion that will create 400 new jobs in Fairfax County, Skip Barber Racing School announced an $8.9 million investment in Halifax County, a warehouse distribution company unveiled plans for a $275 million investment that will create 745 jobs in Caroline County, a major textile manufacturer announced a $13.5 million investment in Tazewell County, and a natural fibers developer announced that it would relocate its headquarters to Mecklenburg County, a $17.5 million investment that will create 45 new jobs. 

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In addition, Governor Youngkin has utilized every lever of power available to him to boost the economic fortunes of Virginians throughout the Commonwealth. In August, the administration launched an unprecedented partnership with community leaders in Petersburg to bolster education opportunities, improve access to healthcare, and foster economic growth. Ten separate projects throughout the Commonwealth have together received more than $11.5 million in funding through community block grants. New tourism programs and federal grants obtained by the Youngkin administration have also boosted local economies.

Along with Governor Youngkin, Attorney General Jason Miyares has also delivered a series of victories for our Commonwealth. His office has pushed back against federal government overreach like unlawful vaccine mandates, while also fighting for justice for crime victims, even when far-left prosecutors in certain localities refuse to do so. In addition, the AG’s office has finally prioritized addressing the opioid crisis, and has finalized $700 million in settlements to address addiction. 

Even with a Senate Democratic caucus determined to be a “brick wall” to progress, Governor Youngkin and Republicans in the House of Delegates managed to deliver some noteworthy successes over the past year, and are set to do so again in the upcoming legislative session. As part of the Republican-led state budget signed into law in June, Virginians received more than $4 billion in tax cuts, along with record funding for community safety, job creation, and education (including a 10% increase in teacher pay). Governor Youngkin has also worked with both parties in Richmond to boost funding for Virginia’s historically black colleges and universities, provide support for human trafficking survivors, and expand healthcare options for small businesses, among other accomplishments.

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At the same time, Democrats in the state Senate stymied progress on a number of other popular initiatives that could have added to this success. With gas prices at historic highs, Democrats blocked Governor Youngkin’s proposed three-month gas tax holiday, a policy that enjoyed broad support from voters. Democrats also rejected legislation expanding school choice for parents and booting divisive concepts like Critical Race Theory from K-12 classrooms.

If Democrats regain complete control of the legislature next November, they have made clear that they are determined to send our Commonwealth back in the wrong direction. For example, under a 2021 state law, Virginia will have to adhere to California’s radical plan to eliminate the sale of all new gas cars by 2035 – a decision that would be disastrous for our economy and would be a massive burden on working families who can’t afford expensive electric vehicles. While Governor Youngkin and House Republicans are eager to decouple Virginia’s laws from California’s far-left edicts, Democrats want to continue allowing politicians on the other side of the country to dictate policies here in Virginia. Democrats have also indicated that they hope to roll back Republican tax cuts and once again impose a burdensome tax-and-spend regime on working Virginia families.

The statewide elections next November will be a battle for the future of our Commonwealth. We need legislators in Richmond who will work with Governor Youngkin, not against him, to build on the progress we have already made. With no national elections this year, the rest of the country will also be tuned in. The stakes are clear, and Republicans must highlight their successes while outlining a clear vision of popular policies that Virginians of all backgrounds can get behind. 

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Rooz Dadabhoy is the founder and chairwoman of Rally Virginia, a network of women dedicated to supporting and championing conservatives in politics and defending American values. She is a resident of Glen Allen, Virginia.

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