Virginia House Democrats to pick new leader.
Democrats in the Virginia House of Delegates will meet in Richmond this weekend to select a new leader. But no clear front-runner has emerged to succeed current Minority Leader David Toscano.
Toscano will step aside from leadership at the end of the year, though he intends to seek re-election to the House next year. The shift will allow a new Democrat to take charge heading into a pivotal election year.
The new leader will guide party strategy for the legislative session that starts Jan. 9 and take the lead on raising money and training candidates for the 2019 House races.
The 49 members of the House Democratic Caucus will begin voting around 2 p.m. Saturday.
Most lawmakers have been tight-lipped about the pending vote, which the caucus has described as an internal party matter.
With at least five candidates said to be in the running, most of them from Northern Virginia, it’s not clear how many rounds of voting might occur before someone reaches a majority.
Republicans have a 51-49 majority in the House. After flipping 15 seats in the 2017 elections, Democrats could take control of the chamber next year by adding just a few more.
If Democrats win a majority, they could find themselves electing a new speaker a year from now. And that might not be the same person who comes out on top Saturday.
Here are the candidates who have confirmed their interest in the leadership job:
Del. Eileen Filler-Corn, D-Fairfax
Filler-Corn, 54, has been in the House since 2010, and she’s frequently mentioned as a possible statewide candidate. She previously served in the administrations of Democratic Govs. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine.
Del. Charniele Herring, D-Alexandria
The first African-American woman elected to a Northern Virginia House seat, Herring, 49, is Toscano’s second-in-command in her current role as the caucus chair. She has served in the House since 2009.
Del. Sam Rasoul, D-Roanoke
Rasoul, 37, has emerged as a caucus maverick after serving in the House since 2014. He’s a vocal critic of Dominion Energy and the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, and he’s made a concerted effort to cultivate relationships among the 2017 freshman class. In 2016, he quit a lower post in the caucus leadership, saying Democrats need to improve their outreach in rural places like Southwest Virginia.
Del. Marcus Simon, D-Fairfax
As the caucus parliamentarian, Simon, 48, is accustomed to procedural sparring with Republicans on the House floor. A former Army JAG officer, Simon has served in the House since 2014.
Del. Rip Sullivan, D-Fairfax
Sullivan, 59, served as the caucus campaign chair for the Democrats’ successful 2017 cycle, and he has been tapped to reprise that role next year. He has served in the House since 2014.