Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin speaks during a rally for Yesli Vega, Republican candidate for northern Virginia's 7th Congressional District, at Locust Shade Park on November 7, 2022 in Triangle, Virginia.
CNN  — 

The stage is now set in Virginia for the most important down-ballot election of 2023 – a battle for control of the split legislature that will offer an important window into the mood of swing-state voters as next year’s presidential race kicks off.

One incumbent state senator, an anti-abortion rights Democrat, was ousted in Tuesday’s primary, while an election-denying Republican trailed her opponent. Their races were among dozens of contested primaries in a state where Democrats narrowly control the Senate and Republicans have a slight majority in the House of Delegates.

Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin – whose 2021 win ended Democrats’ streak of statewide victories and who remains the subject of buzz about a potential late entry to the party’s 2024 presidential race – placed himself in the center of Tuesday’s primaries as he seeks unified GOP control in Richmond.

But Youngkin wasn’t involved in what might be the two most consequential races, Richmond-area Senate contests that both offered clues about the directions of their parties.

State Sen. Joe Morrissey, a rare anti-abortion rights Democrat and veteran state lawmaker, lost to former Del. Lashrecse Aird in a race that focused on abortion in the wake of the Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade.

Morrissey is a controversial figure in Virginia politics. In 2014, he resigned his seat in the House of Delegates under pressure after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor charge of contributing to the delinquency of a minor – a 17-year-old receptionist at his law office who later became his wife. But he ran for the seat as an independent and won the early 2015 special election while serving a six-month jail sentence.

A centrist and Catholic, Morrissey had said he would vote with Republicans to restrict abortion access. Abortion is currently legal up to about 26 weeks in Virginia; Youngkin is seeking to reduce that number to 15 weeks, but a measure to do just that was defeated by the Democratic-led Senate.

Aird, meanwhile, focused her campaign on her support for abortion access, with the backing of pro-abortion rights and women’s rights groups that she thanked in a Tuesday night victory speech.

“Aird was unapologetically pro-abortion rights and campaigned on stopping Governor Youngkin from enacting an abortion ban in Virginia,” Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia executive director Jamie Lockhart said in a statement.

Meanwhile, state Sen. Amanda Chase, a self-described “Trump in heels” who has praised the January 6, 2021, Capitol rioters and parroted debunked election fraud claims, is trailing in a hard-fought GOP primary.

As of Wednesday, former state Sen. Glen Sturtevant, a conservative who promised a lower-key presence, led Chase by a few hundred votes. He campaigned on being “a workhorse, not a show horse in the Senate.”

Youngkin did not endorse in that race. However, his allies on Wednesday were touting the victories of all 10 legislative candidates he did back.

“The Republican Party comes out of the primary season unified and working together toward a common goal,” Youngkin senior adviser Dave Rexrode said in a memo released by the governor’s Spirit of Virginia political action committee. “The Governor along with House and Senate leadership are all on the same page; we are working together to run a coordinated and unified campaign.”

Progressives, meanwhile, largely emerged victorious in Democratic primaries for the legislature and other key races.

Three progressive, reform-minded prosecutors in northern Virginia’s Arlington, Fairfax and Loudoun counties each won their primaries, signaling that despite rising crime rates nationally, Democratic voters have not abandoned their support for criminal justice reform.

Republicans described the Democratic winners of Tuesday’s primaries as too liberal for a state that Democrats have won in every presidential election since 2004.

“Gone are the reasonable Democrats who would put Virginia first,” Rexrode said. “They have been replaced with new nominees who would find like-minded comrades in the most liberal legislatures in the country.”

Democrats, meanwhile, signaled that they intend to focus their campaigns on abortion rights and gun control in a state where the party hopes Youngkin’s 2021 victory was a blip, rather than the reversal of a suburban progressive shift.

“The Republicans want to take us back to 1902. They want to take us back to 1865,” Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney, a Democrat who is widely viewed as a potential 2025 candidate for governor, said in a Twitter video aimed at rallying his party around its ticket. “The primary was the appetizer. The entree is in November.”