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Why political analyst says November elections mean 'wholesale change' for Virginia General Assembly

Dr. Bob Holsworth: 'Redistricting turned out to be almost a backdoor term limits... We're going to lose 20-25% of the members of the General Assembly'
Voting Generic
Posted at 6:19 PM, Mar 01, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-01 18:46:43-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- As February turns to March, signs of the changing season are plentiful in Richmond as flowers begin to bud and stores advertise their spring selections.

A change is also taking place at the State Capitol, where lawmakers wrapped up most of their work for the current General Assembly session Saturday and allowed election season to ramp up.

CBS 6 Political Analyst Dr. Bob Holsworth
CBS 6 Political Analyst Dr. Bob Holsworth

"There's going to be this wholesale change in the General Assembly," said CBS 6 Political Analyst Dr. Bob Holsworth about November's elections when all 100 seats in the House of Delegates and 40 seats in the State Senate will be up for grabs.

The elections will be held using the redistricted maps created by the Supreme Court of Virginia in 2021, which Holsworth says were made in a way that did not protect incumbents.

"So, when they drew these lines, they wound up taking a lot of incumbents and tossing them in to the same district with one another. So, we're seeing people retiring, we're seeing people moving and then we're even seeing some instances where incumbent is going to be against an incumbent in a primary," said Holsworth. "The redistricting turned out to be almost a backdoor term limits. Because, at the end of the day, we're going to lose 20-25% of the members of the General Assembly."

Poster image - 2023-03-01T184104.875.jpg

That opportunity for turnover was welcomed by voters that CBS 6 spoke with.

"It's good to have a blend of seasoned legislators and fresh blood with new ideas. I think any organization where we just keep the same people in there for a long time becomes kind of staid and you don't have the generation of a lot of new ideas," said Rick Naschold. "So, I think it's healthy. I mean, I wouldn't suggest you change the entire legislature every two years. But there is a balance."

Rick Naschold
Rick Naschold

"Part of me thinks it's good to let the new ones come -- get new blood," added Martha Anderson, who could get new senator and delegate candidates. "And the issues are different these days than they were when the others took office. So, that gives me kind of a hope -- a hope for new fresh government."

Holsworth said while allowing fresh faces, the downside of losing so many years of experience in a part-time legislature is the institutional knowledge that goes with it.

"They have expertise, they know how the place operates and the sense is that if you don't have experienced legislators what you wind up doing is, maybe, giving more power to the lobbyists," added Holsworth.

Also, with the possibility of so much turnover, it means some voters will see some or entirely new names of their ballots in the June primaries and November general elections -- giving voters homework to do and hopeful lawmakers introductions to make.

"I look at the district I'm in, I'll look at who's going to run, look at their party affiliation," said Naschold, who stands to gain at least new representation in the House, on how he'll learn about his options. "Look at their background, look at what their positions are on issues. Just try to get a sense as to what their views are and what they're like as people and who I would be more comfortable with."

 Martha Anderson
Martha Anderson

Anderson added along with online research, she will talk with her neighbors who follow politics more closely.

"They always post signs in the yard and then they'll have candidates over to meet and greet," said Anderson. "I love that. And that's a good thing for me to rely on."

Virginia General Assembly
Virginia General Assembly

Holsworth said for the candidates in new districts -- those face to face interactions will be key.

"There's probably no substitute, in some ways, for a lot of on the ground work. They're going to have to get out there, they're going to have to knock on doors, they're going to have to tell people who they are, they're going to have to do a lot of introductions with sort of mailings and things of that sort," added Holsworth.

If you want to see how redistricting impacts your representation, the Virginia Public Access Project has a tool where you can enter your address and it will show your current representation and how it may change.

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