Parties Battle for Control of State Senate

By: Cheryn Stone Email
By: Cheryn Stone Email

November 5, 2007

Control of the state government rests on Tuesday's election, with Democrats hoping to win the majority from the Republicans.

For the first time in a dozen years, Democrats may take control of the State Senate. With lower voter turnout expected, a few votes may shape the future of Virginia politics for the next decade.

"Other than true local government, the General Assembly probably has the biggest impact on voters' day to day lives," Matt Smyth with the UVa Center for Politics says.

So Smyth says voters are well served by paying attention to who is sitting in the GA.

All 140 seats are up for election Tuesday. Right now, Republicans hold the majority in the House and the Senate.

"Right now, it's looking like Democrats are going to pick up some number of seats in the House and the Senate," Smyth says.

Analyst agree, Democrats will not take control of the House.

Sean O'Brien with the Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership says, "the Democrats think they have an opportunity to take control of the State Senate, which would be just huge for them."

They only need to pick up four seats to do it.

"It would allow them to have a say in the redistricting process...for how the Senate and House lines are drawn in the future," O'Brien says.

Analyst say it's going to be close Tuesday. The Senate very well may end up tied. If that happens, the tie votes would be broken by the Lieutenant Governor who is currently a Republican.

These experts predict low voter turnout, somewhere between 20% and 30%.

"It's really quite sad because these elections are going to shape the course of Virginia politics for the next ten years," O'Brien says.

O'Brien says a democratic majority in the Senate would be good news for Governor Tim Kaine. If Republicans retain control, it may be hard for Kaine to get done what he wants to do with the biannual budget.

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