by Madison Hirneisen
More than a dozen Virginia lawmakers have announced the 2023 legislative session will be their last, revealing they do not plan to seek re-election this fall.
As of Wednesday, 16 lawmakers in the House of Delegates and state Senate had announced they would not be seeking re-election when all 140 General Assembly seats are on the ballot. Lawmaker retirements and the upcoming election mean the General Assembly will likely see some new faces next session.
This fall will mark the first election cycle where the state will utilize the maps drawn through the independent redistricting process in 2021. The new maps resulted in some lawmakers being drawn into districts with one or more of their colleagues, and lawmakers are required to reside in the district they represent.
Among the list of lawmakers who have ruled out seeking re-election are Senate Democratic Leader Dick Saslaw (Pictured above, left), D-Fairfax, and Senate Republican Leader Tommy Norment (Pictured above, right), R-James City.
Saslaw, who is Virginia’s longest serving state Senator, spent 48 years in the General Assembly – 44 of which were spent in the Senate. In a floor speech announcing his retirement last week, Saslaw said “everybody’s got a use-by or sell-by date stamp somewhere on them. And for me, it’s next Jan. 10 at noon.”
“Fish gotta swim. Birds gotta fly. And Saslaw’s gotta move on,” he said.
Norment, the Republican leader, opted to not announce his retirement on the floor of the Senate before it adjourned sine die over the weekend. Instead, the senator told the Richmond Times Dispatch: “I came in quietly, and I want to leave quietly.”
Norment told the newspaper, who was the first to report his retirement, he wants to go back to teaching and get more involved in civic issues in Williamsburg, his home town. Under the new legislative boundaries, Norment was drawn into the same district as incumbent Sen. Ryan McDougle, R-Hanover.
Sen. Janet Howell, a Democrat from Fairfax County who co-chairs the Senate Finance Committee, also announced Tuesday that she will not seek re-election. Howell, who has served in the Senate for 32 years, issued a statement announcing she would be “stepping aside.” The news of the retirement was first reported by the Virginia Scope.
“My focus has always been on education, from preschool through graduate school, and on helping our neighbors in need,” Howell said in a statement. “We have made great progress, yet much more must be done.”
Other Senators who have announced they will not be seeking re-election include Sen. John Edwards, D-Roanoke, and Sen. Jill Vogel, R-Fauquier. Edwards was drawn into a district with Republican Sen. Dave Suetterlein.
On the House side, Del. Rob Bell, a Republican who chairs the House Courts of Justice committee, and Del. Kathy Bryon, Republican chair of the House Commerce and Energy Committee, announced they are not planning to seek re-election.
Bell announced he would not be seeking re-election after 22 years in the General Assembly on the final day of the legislative session Saturday. Byron announced her retirement from the House of Delegates in a newsletter to her constituents Monday, followed by a post on Facebook.
“After much thought and prayer, I have decided not to seek reelection in November,” Byron wrote on Facebook. “This was neither a casual decision nor an easy one. While serving in the General Assembly can be frustrating, exasperating, and time-consuming, it is also rewarding, fulfilling, and gratifying.”
The longest serving Democrat in the Virginia House, Del. Ken Plum of Fairfax, has also announced he will not be seeking re-election. Plum announced his retirement in a letter to constituents posted on Patch, writing he is “indebted to the voters of Reston and nearby communities for returning me to office every two years.”
Other delegates who have announced they will not seek re-election include Del. James Edmunds, R-Halifax, Del. Kathleen Murphy, D-Fairfax, Del. Mike Mullin, D-Newport News, Del. Roxann Robinson, R-Chesterfield, Del. Tim Anderson, R-VA Beach, Del. Jeff Bourne, D-Richmond, Del. Margaret Ransone, R-Westmoreland, and Del. John Avoli, R-Staunton.
– – –
Madison Hirneisen is a staff reporter covering Virginia and Maryland for The Center Square. Madison previously covered California for The Center Square out of Los Angeles, but recently relocated to the DC area. Her reporting has appeared in several community newspapers and The Washington Times.
Photo “Dick Saslaw” by Dick Saslaw. Photo “Tommy Norment” by Tommy Norment.Background Photo “Virginia Capitol” by Martin Kraft. CC BY-SA 3.0.