As a lot of attention on the national level is being devoted to the discussion surrounding Democratic leadership in the House of Representatives, it looks like we have a localized version of that debate happening here in Virginia. Ben Tribbett tweeted last night that Delegate David Toscano will be resigning from his role as Democratic leader in the House of Delegates.
Toscano has served as the Democratic leader since 2011 and the caucus has been in the minority during that period (and not even close to getting a majority for most of it). After the 2017 elections, however, Democrats are extremely close to gaining control of the House and this could potentially mean the next Democratic leader would be Speaker of the House. As Tribbett points out, this could mean some jockeying from current delegates; especially since he likely won’t officially resign until after the 2019 General Assembly session.
The Toscano chaos gets even better. Now he is telling people he wants to stay as a lame duck leader through session then step down. So Dems will spend all session jockeying with each other?
These developments have already started up a discussion about who should fill his spot. Several people have mentioned Jennifer Boysko’s name since she had a failed attempt to take over the leadership position this past summer, but her campaign to fill Jennifer Wexton’s seat in the state senate means she might not even be in the House next year. While others like Delegate Alfonso Lopez are apparently making calls about the opening, it’s really not clear who will emerge as potential candidates.
As the debate geared up this morning, I couldn’t help but think there are several people who were elected as part of the blue wave back in 2017 who are both good on the issues and know how to inspire people. That being said, it’s absolutely crucial that the caucus leader who has the relationships and legislative process knowledge to effectively steer through a progressive legislative agenda. Someone with just one term of experience might not have this and therefore probably wouldn’t be a practical choice.
I therefore strongly believe we need someone with experience to lead the caucus in the immediate future, but should make clear, definitive steps towards developing new leadership in the House. While there are plenty of experienced delegates who I’ve supported over the years for their current seats (and will continue to do so), nobody jumps out as the clear frontrunner right now. It’ll therefore be interesting to see who emerges as a candidate to be the new Democratic leader in the next couple weeks/months.