will be sixteen and possibly seventeen new faces
in the House of Delegates next month – a
surprising upheaval in an election that comes
halfway through the redistricting cycle. A
change like that can have unexpected effects.
Like what? Well, then they wouldn’t be
unexpected. But I think a big step toward
the center is indicated.
five of the seats were vacated by political
defeats (three Republican incumbents and two
Democrats). The rest of the openings were caused
by criminal convictions (Fenton Bland), early
retirements (Albert Pollard, Allen Louderback,
Glenn Weatherholtz), ambitions (Viola Baskerville,
Chap Petersen, Bob McDonnell), retirements after
long service (Jim Dillard, Mitch Van Yahres, Paul
Councill) and, always sad to note, health issues
(Marian Van Landingham).
potential seventeenth new face will appear if Ryan
McDougle, R-Hanover, heads to the Senate to
replace Lt. Governor Bill Bolling.
long ago term limits was all the rage, but in
Virginia the House in particular and the Senate to
a lesser degree have always seen substantial
turnover. The headlines after the election focused
on a small shift in the partisan split, but they
didn’t really mention that one in six delegates
would be rookies. (One of the newly elected
delegates has served previously.)
the ivory tower worrywarts fret over the lack of
partisan competition. The Times-Dispatch editorial
page did it again Sunday. But if the House is
constantly refreshed with new men and women,
isn’t that some compensation? Don’t party
nominating contests count? They sure do when you
are in one.
column has little other agenda than to run down
the list of new people. If you are looking for
deep political insights today, click elsewhere.
Pending a special election in Hanover and a
possible recount in Brad Marrs’ old seat, here
Bulova, D-Fairfax, replaces Chap Petersen.
Bulova is an environmental consultant and
member of a political family, and a William
and Mary graduate – the only one on the
list, sad to say.
Caputo, D-Fairfax, replaces Gary Reese. An
electrical engineer and 38-year federal
employee, Caputo came across as the most
pro-business of the Democrats.
Crockett-Stark, R-Wytheville, replaces Benny
Keister. She is a retired teacher, a
grandmother and part of a well-established
political clan. She focused her race on
improving the economy in Southwest Virginia.
Dance, D-Petersburg, replaces Fenton Bland
(she was elected in March and now is a
sophomore on paper, but a freshman in
reality). She is the former mayor of
Petersburg and retired from the Southside
Virginia Training Center, where she rose to
the post of deputy director.
Englin, D-Alexandria, replaces Marian Van
Landingham. He is an Air Force Academy and
Harvard Kennedy School graduate who describes
his work as “writer, activist and
consultant.” He doesn’t say for whom. I
interviewed him for Virginia FREE and he may
be more liberal than the lady he is replacing.
Gilbert, R-Woodstock, replaces Allen
Louderback. Gilbert is an assistant
commonwealth’s attorney in Shenandoah County
and, in the interviews I saw at least, proved
the most humorous of the newcomers.
Iaquinto, R-Virginia Beach, replaces Bob
McDonnell. Iaquinto is an attorney who worked
in the Attorney General’s office under Jim
Gilmore and Mark Earley. Of the Republican
newcomers he spent the most time discussing
transportation in his campaign.
Lohr, R-Rockingham, replaces Glenn
Weatherholtz. Lohr is a Tech-educated farmer
who faced one of the most competitive and
expensive elections of the year as Democrats
dreamed of inroads in the Shenandoah Valley.
Marsden, D-Fairfax, replaces Jim Dillard.
Marsden is a former Republican who clearly
enjoyed major crossover votes. He has had a
career managing juvenile justice facilities
and programs and could quickly become the
go-to delegate on those issues.
Toscano, D-Charlottesville, replaces Mitch Van
Yahres. An attorney in private practice with
both a J.D. and a Ph.D. from Virginia, Toscano
should be just as liberal as his predecessor
– and the district.
Tyler, D-Jarratt, replaces Paul Councill.
Tyler is a physical therapist and former
Sussex County supervisor. Republicans spent a
ton of money on behalf of their white
candidate and learned the hard way that they
had drawn a black majority district which
performed exactly as they designed it to.
Waddell, I-Richmond, replaces Brad Marrs.
After 20 years of party activism as a
pro-choice Republican and service on the staff
of Republican Lieutenant Governor John Hager,
will she join that party’s caucus? It would
sure help Republicans hold their margins on
Wittman, R-Montross, replaces Albert Pollard.
Wittman is a biologist with the state’s
shellfish sanitation program with a Ph.D. in
public policy, and a native of the Northern
Neck with long service in local government.
of the sixteen are female, four are
African-American. Ten are Democrats, five
Republicans and one an independent who was a
Republican activist. Five of the male Democrats
are named David (that’s weird.) Six are lawyers.
Several have Ph.D. degrees and several more
masters in various fields – bringing some real
world expertise the House always needs.
my count nine of them have spent all or part of
their working lives in government. Several are
self-employed as consultants or lawyers but only
one, the farmer Matt Lohr, runs a significant
business. Dance is part owner of a restaurant. The
shortage of business experience
is a major cause for concern, but only a handful
showed hostility toward business positions in
their questionnaire answers or campaign positions.
November 28, 2005