In a tweet sent out yesterday morning, Sen. Dick Black (R-13) confirmed that he will not be seeking reelection this year and will retire at the end of his term. Black is perhaps most well known on the national level for his meetings with Syrian dictator Bashar Assad, which led to him defending the controversial leader while trashing US foreign policy. Here is Virginia, he’s known as the most conservative member of the General Assembly who often puts an extreme right wing agenda before the best interests of the general public.
Black emerged on the political scene when he served on the Library Board of Trustees in Loudoun County and worked to have internet filters on library computers that would prevent pornography from being viewed. His odd obsession with sex related issues continued over the years as he once said he could potentially support polygamy because “at least it functions biologically” and is “just more natural” than homosexuality. He also went on to compare homosexuality to incest.
The Senator also stirred up a lot of controversy during his time in the House of Delegates by claiming spousal rape should be legal. “How on earth you could validly get a conviction of a husband-wife rape when they’re living together, sleeping in the same bed, she’s in a nightie, and so forth,” Black declared. “There’s no injury, there’s no separation or anything.”
Despite being represented by someone as extreme as Dick Black, the district has definitely been trending Democratic over the last few elections. Tim Kaine won the district by 19 points last year, Ralph Northam won it by 11 points in 2017, and Hillary Clinton won by six points back in 2016. In 2015, the last time the seat was on the ballot, Black won the seat by less than 5 points at a time when there wasn’t a lot of attention given to the district by statewide organizations.
He was also extremely proud of his efforts to block the expansion of Medicaid. He was successful in these efforts until the Democratic wave in 2017 led to almost 400,000 Virginians gaining access to affordable healthcare. Even during the 2018 session, however, Black was still trying to use the healthcare debate to promote an extremist agenda by introducing an amendment (which eventually failed) that would prevent low income women from seeking all medical options and force them to carry a grossly deformed fetus to term.
I happen to live in the 13th district, so this announcement was especially interesting to me. It’s perhaps the most highly targeted seat currently being occupied by a Republican and several Democrats have stepped forward to run. While I think we’ll have a strong field in the Democratic primary, I’m backing John Bell — who happens to currently represent me in the House of Delegates.
Del. Bell is an Air Force veteran who’s been popular — both with voters and his colleagues. This can be illustrated by his 23 point victory in 2017 after narrowly winning his first election in 2015. Despite a strong field of other Democrats in the field, he’s also received the endorsement of many elected officials from the General Assembly and at the statewide level. Rumor has it he was even directly asked to run for the Senate by Gov. Ralph Northam.
With the Democrats already highly targeting the district, there was a good chance it’d be a Democratic pickup this year. Sen. Black’s retirement will only make those chances increase — especially if Democrats nominate a strong candidate like Del. John Bell.