With Every Seat Up for Grabs, Many Republicans are Calling it Quits at the General Assembly

Apr 11, 2019

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Nine lawmakers are calling it quits, stepping down from their position in the General Assembly.

Three Republican senators are retiring this year, and five Republican delegates won’t be running again. Only one Democratic delegate is stepping out of public life.

Quentin Kidd at Christopher Newport University says the exodus of Republicans is telling.

“Republicans, in the era of Donald Trump, are constantly on the defensive. And there are a certain number of them that just say look I’m done with that and I’m tired of being on the defensive, says Kidd.

"But also added on top of that the court-mandated new district lines in the House of Delegates.”

Stephen Farnsworth at the University of Mary Washington says those eight retiring Republicans are considering what it might like to be out of the majority.

“Being in the minority is no fun, and so for Republicans who have been in the majority the prospect of being in the minority is unappealing," he says.

"And for the Democrats who have been in the minority the prospect of being in the majority is appealing, and that’s why so many Democrats are willing to stay in Richmond even though the outcome may be uncertain.”

The longest serving House member to retire is Delegate Riley Ingram of Hopewell, who was first elected in 1991. On the Senate side, Frank Wagner was first elected to the Senate in 2001. But he served for many years in the House, where he was first elected along with Riley Ingram back in 1991.

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