RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Several Virginia lawmakers have announced their departure from the General Assembly, including former House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn, who told 8News on Wednesday that she “will definitely consider and explore” a run for governor in 2025.
Filler-Corn (D-Fairfax) and Senator Lynwood Lewis (D-Accomack) became the latest legislators Tuesday to announce their retirement from the General Assembly.
In the House of Delegates, Filler-Corn joined a list of 28 total exiting elected officials — 15 of whom said they would retire, and 13 of whom said they would be seeking other office. Meanwhile, in the state Senate, Lewis joined a list of eight total exiting elected officials — seven of whom said they would retire, and one of whom, Senator Jennifer McClellan, said she would be seeking other office. McClellan was sworn in Tuesday as the first Black congresswoman to represent Virginia, after winning the special election to succeed the late Representative Donald McEachin.
According to nonprofit Virginia Public Access Project (VPAP), these are the most retirements in both houses of the General Assembly dating back at least to 1999.
“The predominant factor was, I mean, the redistricting resulted in a much more challenging district,” Sen. Lewis told 8News on Wednesday. “You could talk past party labels and you could talk to people about specific issues and your specific views on issues without worrying about getting some reflexive party I.D. reaction from folks, and those days are pretty much gone.”
The Virginia Supreme Court finalized the state’s redistricting process in December of 2021, reconfiguring the Commonwealth’s 11 congressional districts for the 2022 midterms using new census data.
Lewis also cited the desire to spend more time with his family, as well as the challenge of being a business owner in the Commonwealth’s citizen legislature.
“The citizen legislature is supposed to be part-time, and it is increasingly becoming full-time,” he said. “It’s going to be very challenging after the elections in November.”
While visiting Louisa County High School for Read Across America last week, Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin was asked about that citizen legislature and the turnover now facing the General Assembly.
“I want to thank all of these incredible public servants for their commitment to the Commonwealth,” he said. “Next year, I’ll have a chance to submit a new biennium, a new two-year budget, and I’ll do that in December of next year. One of the great realities of Virginia is that with a citizen legislature, we draw an extraordinary talent, and I’m looking forward to seeing some of the new faces next year.”
With at least 36 total seats that will be vacated and need to be filled, though, lawmakers said they are concerned that there could be some “growing pains” over the next few years.
“I have always been somebody that has prompted capable, competent individuals with new ideas and, arguably, different life experiences. So, I think that’s always a good thing,” Filler-Corn said. “So much goes into being a qualified, capable elected official, and I think some of that is experience, some of it is institutional knowledge, some of it is relationships and strong relationships that don’t happen overnight.”
Lewis echoed that sentiment, and noted the potential role of special interest groups.
“You’re going to have interest groups, lobby groups, all of sorts of people who, probably, in the first few years after this next election cycle, are going to be exercising some tremendous influence throughout this,” the state senator said. “I think the assembly, as I said, is going to face some challenges, no matter who is in control.”