April 22, 2024

Virginia House Democrats on Wednesday chose Del. Don Scott Jr. (D-Portsmouth) as their new leader, weeks after voting to remove former House minority leader Del. Eileen Filler-Corn (D-Fairfax).

Scott, an attorney, was chosen as the next party leader in a closed caucus election Wednesday morning, making him the first Black lawmaker to lead Democrats in either the House or Senate. He is the first Black person to serve as minority leader in the Virginia House of Delegates.

Del. Don Scott Jr. (D-Portsmouth) 

Del. Charniele Herring of Alexandria and Del. Rip Sullivan of Fairfax were also vying for the position.

Scott led the push to remove Filler-Corn as House minority leader, though She was the first woman and Jewish person to serve as House Speaker and became minority leader after Republicans took back the chamber majority after last year’s elections.

The caucus removed Del. Filler-Corn on April 27 without electing a new caucus leader, opting to wait until Wednesday’s state budget session to hold a vote. Filler-Corn declined to comment after Wednesday’s vote on Wednesday.

Speaking after the vote, Scott took aim at Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin and state GOP lawmakers, saying, “I’m not afraid to stand up and say it: Youngkin and his party don’t care one bit about effective governance or how their decisions impact everyday Virginians,” Scott said in his statement. “They are happy to sit back and stoke the flames of the culture war while our constituents struggle to make ends meet.”

Scott said the party needs to focus on kitchen-table issues, as opposed to culture wars and former President Donald Trump.

The leadership change comes after House Republicans won a majority in the chamber last November and used their power during the regular 2022 General Assembly session to defeat several Democratic-backed proposals.

The House Democratic Caucus also elected Del. Dan Helmer (D-Fairfax) as vice-chair of outreach. Scott held and resigned from that position as he sought the minority leader role.

Del. Scott is a former naval officer; he has represented Virginia’s 80th District since 2020. Originally from Houston, Scott was arrested on federal drug charges while in law school in 1994 and served seven years in prison.

 

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