Posts Tagged ‘Edd Houck’
It has been a rough couple of weeks for democrats hoping to hold on to power in the Virginia Senate. First, on election night they lost two seats and were within a razor-thin margin in a third. That third seat, once held by Sen. Edd Houck, meant the difference between a 21-19 majority and a 20-20 tie. Instead of Houck asking for a recount and hoping for a different outcome, the veteran lawmaker conceded guaranteeing a 20-20 tie in the Senate.
That meant that Lt. Governor Bill Bolling held the tie breaking vote and that democrats were now in the minority. But democrats were not ready to give up. Led by Sen. Don McEachin (D-Henrico), they filed a lawsuit in Richmond Circuit Court, requesting that they be given the opportunity to share power with the GOP. Today, Judge Beverly W. Snukals denied that request.
Now with the elections over and an unsuccessful legal challenge behind them, the democrats are left with only one option. Beg the now official majority party to share power.
“I call on the Republicans to respect the will of the voters and past history,” said McEachin. ”The senate is evenly divided, 20-20 so committees and responsibilities and power should be divided to reflect that even split, just as the Republicans said in 1996.”
Not surprisingly, the republicans don’t appear to be interested in offering democrats committee chairmanships and evenly distributing members of both parties in those committees.
“It is my hope that Senator McEachin and the Senate Democratic Caucus will realize the futility of pursuing this matter further and begin to prepare appropriately for the important work of the upcoming session,” said the incoming Senate Majority leader Sen. Tommy Norment (R-James City)
McEachin has not ruled out further moves, “both legal and procedural”, but did not go into specifics. He even pointed to a recent Public Policy Polling survey that he claims shows that Virginians want power sharing in the Virginia Senate.
“Over half of respondents, 55%, believe that power should be shared in the Virginia State Senate,” said McEachin. “These voters, constituents of both Democrats and Republicans, recognize that the Election day results created an evenly divided Senate and, therefore, the Senate should organize in a way reflective of those results.
Republicans, though don’t seem moved by McEachin’s argument. Republican Party of Virginia Chairman Pat Mullins welcomed the Circuit Court’s ruling and told the democrats to back off what he called their “sore loser suit”.
“Hopefully, Democrats will accept the judgement of Virginia’s voters – and now the courts – with a measure of grace,” said Mullins.
Despite McEachin’s persistence, the leader of the Virginia Senate democrats appeared to agree with republicans in the days after the election results came in. Sen. Dick Saslaw admitted in a conference call that all the decisions regarding who runs in the Senate were in the republican’s hands.
“They got a tie breaking vote,” said Saslaw. ”If you got 20 plus 1 on a vote you pretty much don’t have to share anything!”
It took a tad bit longer than we expected, but the republican party is now celebrating capturing the Virginia Senate. Party leaders have already said that they would take full organizational power, despite a 20-20 split.
Edd Houck officially conceded today, ending the speculation that he may ask for a recount of his slim loss to Republican Bryce Reeves.
Here is my story on Houck’s decision from NBC12:
The Senate of Virginia is officially in the hands of the Republican Party. 7 term senator Edd Houck announced that he was conceding his race to republican Bryce Reeves.
Houck deciding to forgo a recount, means a 20-20 split in the senate, with the GOP holding the tie breaking vote.
The numbers just weren’t on his side, and instead of a prolonged period of doubt over who would be governing Virginia, he ended the speculation. Houck stepped down from a nearly 30 year career in Richmond, the way any true statesman would.
He knew his time had come.
“He won it fair and square,” Houck said of his victorious opponent Reeves.
Faced with a deficit of more than 200 votes, and a long period of time before all the ballots could be counted again, Houck chose not to focus on what he didn’t accomplish this time around, and instead what his was able to do over the course of a 7 term career.
“I’m very proud of the service I’ve provided to the citizens of this district for the last 28 years,” he said.
Cut out of central casting, Houck looks the part of a Virginia gentleman, sent to Richmond to do the people’s business. He served as one of the principal architects of several state budgets, a role he loved in an institution he respected immensely. A respect he shared with the man who will replace him.
“You are about to enter one of the most sacred legislative areas in the entire country,” Houck told Reeves, “That is the Senate of Virginia.”
….read and see the full story on NBC12.com
An extended clip from Houck’s concession announcement can be found below:
Off-year elections are not supposed to be this exciting. The polls have been closed in Virginia for almost 12 hours and we still aren’t 100% sure which party is in control of the Virginia Senate. Election night was a tense and dramatic affair with both parties claiming victory.
Henrico County Commonwealth’s Attorney- The win by upstart Shannon Taylor was improbable. She was immensely outspent, got as late a start as any candidate on the ballot could have and was running against a historically dominant Republican machine. It is a victory that will resonate beyond Central Virginia to the rest of the state and should even get a small amount of national attention because it was a blow to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor‘s power base in his home district. Republicans will argue that Taylor benefited greatly by Matt Geary‘s refusal to exit the race and the results are an anomaly that won’t tell us anything about 2012. That is true, but Taylor’s victory cannot be understated given that she toppled Del. Bill Janis, a man who gave up a very powerful position in the House of Delegates to run for CA.
Held off Senate losses- Conventional wisdom was that democrats were headed to a very difficult night. Worst case scenarios had them losing 10 seats or more in the House of Delegates and 4 seats and control of the Virginia Senate. It looks like the outcome will not be that bad, and at the very least the republican agenda will be forced to get democratic support to pass through the committee process.
They hold more seats in the General Assembly- Regardless of how you read the numbers there is one inescapable fact from the 2011 results. The GOP now holds more seats in the House and the Senate than they did before election day. While Governor Bob McDonnell has not been handed a clear majority in the Senate to push through his agenda, he has at least one additional vote that he didn’t before. That will make it much easier for him to pass legislation that will resonate beyond his time in office.
Powerful, vocal democratic leaders lose- If the results all hold democrats could lose two of their most influential voices in the General Assembly. Most notably, Del. Ward Armstrong the one time leader of the democratic caucus in the House of Delegates and a would be statewide candidate. Armstrong was re-redistricted into a match-up with incumbent Charles Poindexter in a GOP heavy district. He ran a campaign as far away from the democratic base as he could, but it was not enough. Unless he still has visions of a statewide run, his political career could be over. In the race that is still in doubt, Sen. Edd Houck a longtime democratic stalwart and foil to republican governors could be gone. Houck is the third most powerful member of the democratic senate and a strong voice on the joint money committees. He understands the nitty-gritty of the state budget and his experience would be a huge loss for democrats when it comes to budget time.
I joined the NBC12 morning team for a look at the results. You can see our discussion below: