Out of Obscurity: Lashrecse Aird

Lashrecse Aird

As Democratic legislators organize in advance of assuming control of the General Assembly, the media spotlight shifts to the maneuvering to fill the senior leadership positions. The elevation of Sen. Richard Saslaw, D-Fairfax, to Senate Majority Leader is a foregone conclusion. But who will become the next Speaker of the House?

At this point, according to the Virginia Mercury, there are four declared candidates: past House Minority Leader Del. Eileen Filler-Corn, D-Fairfax; Del. Lashrecse Aird, D-Petersburg; Del. Luke Torian, D-Prince Williams, and Del. Ken Plum, D-Fairfax.

Of these, the most interesting to me is the little-known Aird. First of all, it’s a remarkable sign of the times that a 33-year-old African-American woman and  lawmaker with a mere four years of experience could seriously aspire to the most important state legislative position in the state. So, congratulations to Aird on that score. If she wins, I’m sure the first-in-Virginia-history angle will totally dominate the news coverage.

But there’s another aspect to Aird of interest to anyone plumbing Virginia’s deeper power structure: She is employed as chief of staff at Richard Bland College, a two-year college in Prince George County. As Speaker of the House she would be a powerful ally of public higher education in Virginia.

In past years, we have seen how Sen. Tommy Norment, R-Williamsburg, who at one time was the highest-paid adjunct faculty member of the College of William & Mary, spiked several bills that would have held Virginia’s public colleges and universities accountable for the sky-rocketing of attendance. Now a member of the minority party, Norment will no longer wield the power he did as Senate Majority Leader. His departure will be the higher-ed lobby’s loss. But the elevation of Aird to Speaker of the House would more than make up the difference.

As the politicking unfolds, it will be interesting to see which special interests line up behind Aird — and what level of behind-the-scenes clout, if any, the higher-ed lobby is capable of exercising.

— JAB

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13 responses to “Out of Obscurity: Lashrecse Aird

  1. Lashrecse. Even I have to look up the spelling to be sure….

  2. It is unfathomable that someone with so little experience could be a serious candidate. It shows that the Democrats do not have a deep bench. After all, almost half will have been first elected in either 2017 or 2019. Although William Howell was not widely known when he was chosen to succeed Vance Wilkins, after he was caught chasing secretaries around the conference table, Howell had been in the legislature long enough to rise up to the level of committee chairman.

    As for higher ed, they do not have to worry. Sen. Janet Howell of Fairfax, who is expected to be the next chair of the Senate Finance Committee, was quoted in today’s Times Dispatch as saying she wants to shift that committee’s priority from prekindergarten to colleges and universities. From that article, it appears that George Mason University will be getting boodles of cash. Howell singled out GMU for special attention as did Mark Sickles, who will be the chairman or vice-chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.

  3. By the way, Richard Bland is not just a “two-year college in Prince George County”. It is “associated” with the College of William and Mary. Richard Bland’s governing body is the William and Mary Board of Visitors. So, what W&M loses in the Senate with Norment being demoted, it might gain in the House.

  4. In a Senate that closely divided, on behalf of a hometown institution, Norment will continue to swing a big stick. In the Senate (as Dick knows) on things like the budget, the senior members of both parties work together more than most realize. But the university presidents, who I have always compared to feudal barons of old, beg better than anybody in the building.

  5. The speakership should go to Plum or Filler-Corn, NoVA brought the D’s victory.

  6. I think the job can define the person sometimes – and that’s not a bad thing.

    I also think that if the Dems try to ramrod legislation and budget through the GA with most all GOP opposed – it will not be a good thing.

    I expect some collaboration and compromise or else the Dems will be no better than the GOP was.

    • Boy, are you going to be stunned by the straight party votes….many decided one way or the other in the Senate by the always entertaining Joe Morrissey. 🙂

  7. While I don’t think she’s quite ready to be Speaker (Filler-Corn would be my pick), I like Aird’s pragmatism and general focus on kitchen-table issues like jobs, education, and health care. She can also work across party lines (like her work a couple of years ago on a bill with Morefield from Tazewell). If Torian becomes the HAC chair, Aird would make a refreshing vice chair.

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