general assembly

The Democratic caucus of the Virginia House of Delegates is set to meet in Richmond this Thursday as speculation grows that some within the minority party are gunning for a leadership change. A few Democratic lawmakers said in July that Delegate Jennifer Boysko (D-Fairfax) was considering a bid to unseat current Minority Leader David Toscano (D-Charlottesville) who has led the party since 2011.

In a report from the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Toscano said during a recent interview that his party is meeting in the capital city on August 16 due to the possibility that the General Assembly could have convened that day to appoint judges and wrap up other unfinished business from the 2018 session. Since the state legislative body has not officially been called back for House-wide business that day, Toscano explained that the Democratic caucus plans to use the time to discuss policy issues and “organizational things.”

“Whether Delegate Boysko’s request to become leader will emerge in that meeting is not clear to me yet,” Toscano said.

Rather, the minority leader said that he has been “led to believe” that two-term Delegate Boysko may be interested in replacing the seat of State Senator Jennifer Wexton (D-Fairfax) if she wins against incumbent Republican Congresswoman Barbara Comstock (VA-10) in the November congressional midterms. If such a scenario were to occur, a special election would be held.

Nevertheless, some House Democrats express that they are frustrated by what they saw as a sluggish caucus response to the voter energy which ended 2017 as 15 Democrats were propelled to victory in then-Republican House districts. Following the political split in the House to being just a one-member majority for the GOP, Democrats believed they would storm Richmond with an all-Democratic executive branch.

Although Medicaid expansion was voted through, the Democrats failed to get nearly anything noteworthy passed. Even the “freshman 15” had every single one of their bills voted down, the few of those that even had the chance to leave committees with a supporting vote.

Toscano supporters contend that the 14-year Charlottesville representative is a skilled fundraiser and floor leader who should serve out his term until the regularly scheduled leadership election after the 2019 House races. However, it is unclear if the progressives within the state house will act radically and orchestrate a coup.