RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Virginia House Republicans on Sunday unanimously elected their leadership team for the upcoming legislative session, nominating Del. Todd Gilbert to serve as House speaker.
The vote came nearly two weeks after Republicans flipped the Democratic-held offices of governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general in a red surge. Republicans also flipped at least five seats in the House of Delegates and appear poised to take control of the chamber.
Republicans now hold 50 seats in the 100-seat House. Two races remain uncalled, but Republicans hold narrow leads in vote totals in those districts. GOP leaders have said they’re confident they have won those seats, which would give them a 52-48 majority over Democrats.
In House Districts 85 and 91, Democrats are eligible for state-funded recounts because Republicans are leading by margins of less than 0.5%. The two Democratic incumbents in those districts — Martha Mugler in District 91 and Alex Askew in District 85 — have not said yet whether they will seek recounts.
Gilbert has served as the House Minority Leader for the past two years, since Democrats won control of the House in 2019.
“I am proud to serve with and lead a strong and united Republican majority as we look toward the 2022 General Assembly session and beyond,” Gilbert said in a statement.
“I am humbled by the vote of trust and confidence by my colleagues. When we were in the minority, no one believed that we could return to where we are now. But we rallied together, worked together, and won together. I could not be more proud to be a member, let alone the leader, of this caucus.”
Del. Terry Kilgore, a House member since 1994, was elected as House Majority Leader.
Kilgore briefly threw his name into the running for the speaker’s position after Republicans swept Virginian’s statewide elections on Nov. 2. But Kilgore and Gilbert told Republican caucus members in a Nov. 5 letter that they had agreed to support each other for different leadership roles. Gilbert endorsed Kilgore for Majority Leader, while Kilgore endorsed Gilbert for House Speaker.
“As Majority Leader, I look forward to helping chart a policy agenda that works for all Virginians,” Kilgore said in a statement. “While we will debate our colleagues on the other side of the aisle, we will also work with them when we can to ensure the best possible policy outcomes for every Virginian.”
House Republican Caucus Chair Del. Kathy Byron was elected to her second term. Del. Jay Leftwich also was elected House Majority Whip for a second term.