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Retirements, redistricting will change the General Assembly

Former House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn says she will not run for reelection. And state Senator Lynwood Lewis says he won’t either. It's the latest round of retirements in a historic election cycle.

Thirteen House members say they will not run for reelection, and then another thirteen say they won’t run for reelection in the House because they're running for the Senate. More retirements are expected, and others won't make it out of the primaries because they’ve been put in a district with other incumbents.

Former Republican Delegate David Ramadan is now with the Schar School at George Mason University, and he says the newly created redistricting maps have reshuffled the deck. "The more senior members have gotten used to not having contested campaigns, have gotten used to not being challenged within their parties, have gotten used to having safe districts in the general elections saying, 'You know what? I'm done.' "

And it's not just the senior members.

Democratic strategist Ben Tribbett points to younger members who were recently elected calling it quits. "You know, like someone who has been there a long time might say, 'I'm not interested in knocking on 10,000 doors this cycle. I'd rather retire and travel the world with my spouse.' I understand that," Tribbett admits. "But these younger incumbents who quit because they are drawn into tough areas— politics shouldn't be about picking a district and running for it because you think you are favored to win."

At least one third of the House will not be returning next year, and at least one fifth of the Senate won’t be back either.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria.