Scheduling a special election is now in the works as Delegate Greg Habeeb (R-Salem) is retiring at the end of next month, citing a need to focus more on his family and his legal career in Roanoke. According to a report from The Roanoke Times, Habeeb said, “It’s time for me to pay them back by returning to being a full-time Dad and a full-time law partner…”
“Over the last few years, I’ve begun to take on a more significant role at Gentry Locke, culminating with my becoming an owner this year,” he added.
The 42-year-old joined the General Assembly through a special election in 2011 on the eve of that year’s legislative session. He succeeded Republican Congressman Morgan Griffith (VA-9), who upset longtime incumbent Rick Boucher during the congressional election.
Congressman Griffith added his regards to Habeeb’s tenure in a Friday tweet with, “He has been a compassionate conservative that has represented us well in the House of Delegates.”
“Since his election in 2011, Greg has been a valuable member of the House of Delegates,” Speaker of the House Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights) said. “He contributed on the floor, as the Chairman of the Civil Subcommittee and as a member of Commerce & Labor, Transportation and Rules committees during his time in the House.”
“While we are disappointed by his announcement, I respect the personal decision he made. Greg has committed to working alongside us to identify strong candidates who will be ready to fill his shoes. We are confident that Greg will be succeeded by a Republican who shares our commitment to conservative governing principles,” Speaker Cox said via a press release.
To replace Habeeb, House Democratic Leader David Toscano (D-Charlottesville) and Caucus Chair Charniele Herring (D-Alexandria) have called on Cox to schedule the special election on November 6, the day of the general election. However, Cox announced that, “With the House of Delegates currently in session, the power to call a special election rests with me as Speaker. I will be reviewing potential dates and making an announcement in the near future.”
Although the balance of the General Assembly is leaning to the Republicans with a slim 51-49 majority, Habeeb’s seat is unlikely to become a 50th seat for the Democrats to pick up. Through electoral stats taken from the Virginia Public Access Project (VPAP), Habeeb’s southwestern Virginia district has voted no less that 56 percent Republican in the last 11 statewide contests. Moreover, the House district has been Republican since 1991 when Hillsville Democrat Tom Jackson was re-districted to the neighboring 6th and Roanoke native Steve Agee, a Republican, shifted to the 8th and served until 1994.
A few names have been rumored to run in the special election. The Roanoke Times reports that Dan Webb, chairman of the Roanoke County Republican Committee, and Jordan Labiosa, the New Castle vice mayor and chairman of the Craig County Republican Committee are those who are very interested in taking over the legislative seat in Richmond. Furthermore, the report cites Zach Agee, an attorney at Woods Rogers, and Joe McNamara, a longtime member of the Roanoke County Board of Supervisors.