State Senate again up for grabs?

Some exciting pre-Thanksgiving news: State Senator John Watkins will NOT seek re-election next year. And in Virginia, any news about State Senators can lead to seismic changes in state government. Let's break down the math:

  • The Republicans control the State Senate, 21-19.
  • If Watkins' seat is claimed by a Democrat, then the seats are even: 20 each for the GOP and Dems.
  • BUT tie-breaking votes in the Senate are cast by the Lt. Governor - currently, Democrat Ralph Northram. So a 20-20 split belongs to whoever controls the LTG's office, and so Democrats would control the Senate.

You know that Terry McAuliffe must love this particular Thanksgiving treat. After this year's political battle over Medicaid expansion, the Phil Puckett Senate resignation, and other business, relations between the Governor's office and the General Assembly have been less than cordial. Now McAuliffe and the Democrats can see a way of wresting some legislative control back from the Republicans.

Or can they? Norm Leahy over at Bearing Drift seems unconcerned, calling the district "comfortable for a Republican." But as the Richmond Times-Dispatch points out, Dems have carried the district in the last three state-wide elections; Watkins is considered a moderate Republican. (Perhaps the last in VA politics.)

Stay tuned. And have a great holiday!