RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) – Virginia lawmakers have picked who will lead them in the 2024 General Assembly session and beyond.
Democrats and Republicans chose leaders for their respective caucuses about a week after Democrats won slim majorities in the state Senate and House of Delegates.
With control of both chambers, Democrats can dictate the state’s legislative agenda over the next two years and fend off concerns of a tie-breaking vote from Republican Lt. Gov. Winsome Earle-Sears in the Virginia Senate.
But Democrats won’t have enough votes to counter vetoes from Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R), likely limiting most of the party’s ambitious bills and forcing them to focus on bipartisan priorities and start the process for constitutional amendments, including one to enshrine abortion rights.
The upcoming General Assembly session begins Jan. 10, 2024, when lawmakers will officially vote to confirm caucus leaders.
(Virginia senators serve four-year terms, and state delegates serve two-year terms. So, without any changes, Senate leaders will stay in place until 2028 and House leaders until 2026.)
In the Senate
Democrats and Republicans in the Virginia Senate elected their leaders Wednesday.
State Sen. Scott Surovell (D-Fairfax) was chosen as majority leader to replace state Sen. Dick Saslaw (D-Fairfax), who is retiring after nearly 50 years in the legislature.
Senate Democrats picked state Sen. Mamie Locke (D-Hampton) as caucus chair. Locke sought the majority leader role and was backed by the Virginia NAACP and endorsed by the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus.
State Sens. Barbara Favola (D-Arlington) and Lamont Bagby (D-Richmond) were chosen as Democratic whips. The caucus vice chair will be state Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-Fairfax), state Sen. Aaron Rouse (D-Virginia Beach) will be caucus secretary, and state Sen. Ghazala Hashmi (D-Chesterfield) will be treasurer.
Senate Republicans elected state Sen. Ryan McDougle (R-Hanover) as minority leader, state Sen. Mark Obenshain (R-Harrisonburg) as caucus chair, and picked state Sens. Bill Stanley (R-Franklin) and Bryce Reeves (R-Orange) as whips.
In the House
Democrats in the Virginia House picked Del. Don Scott, a 58-year-old Portsmouth defense attorney, as their speaker nominee. Scott will be the first Black speaker in the chamber’s more than 400-year history.
Del. Charniele Herring (D-Alexandria) will serve as majority leader again — she became the first Black woman to hold the post in 2020. Del. Kathy Tran (D-Fairfax), who fled Vietnam with her parents by boat, will be caucus chair, becoming the first person from the Asian American and Pacific Islander community to serve in the role.
House Republicans opted to keep Del. Todd Gilbert (R-Shenandoah), the outgoing speaker, as their leader after he faced a GOP challenger for the post.
Republicans re-elected Del. Amanda Batten (R-James City) as caucus chair and Del. Michael Webert (R-Fauquier) as GOP whip.