There’s something to be said for longevity. That’s especially true in the Virginia state Senate, an institution that has elevated the concept of longevity to a fetish.
Committee assignments are based on seniority. Leadership positions are given to people who have been there longest. Even the positioning of their seats on the Senate floor are based on when they were first elected.
So perhaps it’s no surprise that Democratic Leader Dick Saslaw is poised to become the next majority leader. First elected to the Senate in 1979 after serving two terms in the House of Delegates, Saslaw is the longest-serving senator in the chamber. Next in line is state Sen. Janet Howell (D-32), who was first elected in 1991. Unlike the leadership fight now unfolding among Democrats in the House of Delegates, Saslaw is unopposed and ready to seize the reins of power.
“Thomas Jefferson told me there’d be days like this if I hung around long enough,” he joked after Democrats gained the majority Tuesday night.
Unlike the state Senate, Democrats in the House of Delegates are already spoiling for a leadership fight. House Democratic Leader Eileen Filler-Corn is considered by many to be the leading candidate, but first she’ll have to beat back a challenge from Del. Laschrecse Aird (D-63).
Del. Charniele Herring says she’ll seek the position of House Majority Leader, a key position in the chamber that controls much of the day-to-day grind of lawmaking.
Herring says she’ll use the position to undo years of damage from Republicans on gun control and women’s reproductive rights. She also plans to take a critical look at all the laws the GOP has instituted over the years restricting access to the polls.
“When you are talking about fundamental things like voting, and how much more difficult Republicans have made it, Virginians want a change,” said Herring at a victory party in Richmond Tuesday night.
Gay and Unopposed
Voters in the eastern half of Alexandria were greeted by a ballot that had a historic distinction, even though it may have escaped notice until they saw the candidates on the ballot. For much of the city, voters had three openly gay candidates who had no opposition: state Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-30), Del. Mark Levine (D-45) and the Democratic candidate for clerk of court, Greg Parks.
All gay. All unopposed.
“Someone posted a picture of all three of our signs and (former City Councilman and Delegate) Rob Krupicka noted it was historic,” observed Ebbin. “I scratched my head and wondered why that was for a moment.”