Politics

Virginia Senate names caucus leaders for next legislative session

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  • Both parties in the Virginia Senate have tapped veteran lawmakers to lead their caucuses in the upcoming Legislature.
  • Democrat Scott Surovell will be the majority leader, while Republican Ryan McDougle will be the next minority leader of the Commonwealth Senate.
  • Democrats narrowly won both legislative chambers early in this month’s elections, dashing Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s hopes of achieving a trifecta.

Both Democrats and Republicans in the Virginia Senate on Wednesday elected veteran lawmakers to lead their respective caucuses starting next year’s legislative session.

Senate Democrats selected Scott Surovell, a Fairfax County attorney, to serve as majority leader, the group said in a news release. He will succeed outgoing Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw, who announced in February that he would not seek re-election.

Democrats not only maintained the majority they have held in the 40-member upper house since 2020 in this month’s legislative elections, but they also lost control of the House of Delegates, dashing Republican hopes for a GOP trifecta with Governor Glenn Youngkin. But Democrats will control the Senate by the narrowest possible margin (21-19), with Republican Lt. Gov. Winsome Earle-Sears presiding over the chamber and casting tie-breaking votes.

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Surovell, who has served in the General Assembly since 2010, said in a statement that Senate Democrats would “fight to fulfill the trust Virginia voters placed in our caucus to make Virginia a prosperous, inclusive and progressive Commonwealth and the best state of the United States to raise funds. a family and start a business.”

In an aerial view, the Virginia State Capitol is shown on July 12, 2023 in Richmond, Virginia. The Virginia General Assembly is the oldest elected legislative body in North America, beginning as the House of Burgesses in 1619. The current Capitol building was designed by Thomas Jefferson and its cornerstone was laid in 1785. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Sen. Mamie Locke of Hampton, another veteran lawmaker, had also been vying for the seat and was endorsed by both the Virginia NAACP and the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus. Locke, who was elected president of the group, had no immediate comment.

Senate Republicans, who grew their caucus by one member this election cycle, tapped Ryan McDougle of Hanover to serve as GOP leader, according to a news release.

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McDougle, also an attorney, has been a member of the Senate since 2006 and served in the House before that, from 2002 to 2006.

“We have a talented team of experienced legislators and skilled newcomers who are prepared to advance our positive agenda of fighting inflation, reducing taxes, supporting law enforcement and controlling energy prices. We will work collaboratively with the governor Youngkin to advance his priorities, and we are determined to thwart partisan obstructionism,” McDougle said in a statement.

Both chambers of the part-time Legislature will undergo massive turnover in January due to a combination of retirements and electoral defeats. In the Senate, almost half of the members will be new.

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The House Democratic and Republican caucuses held their leadership elections over the weekend. Del. Don Scott will be the next Speaker of the House, becoming the first Black person to hold the position. And Del. Todd Gilbert, who serves as spokesman, will become Republican leader in January.

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