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What happened in Tennessee House is 'very unlikely' in Virginia General Assembly, political analyst says

Holsworth: 'To many people who are watching this it has a strong racial dimension'
Tennessee House of Representatives Expelled
Posted at 4:00 PM, Apr 07, 2023

RICHMOND, Va. -- As the decision by Republicans in the Tennessee House of Representatives to expel some of their Democratic colleagues for taking part in a gun control protest, you may wonder if the same thing could happen in Virginia.

Dr. Bob Holsworth, a political analyst for WTVR CBS 6, said while it is possible, it is unlikely under the current make-up of the Virginia General Assembly.

"It's pretty amazing what's happening in Tennessee to see two people expelled for being involved in a protest. And then clearly, I think, to many people who are watching this it has a strong racial dimension, as well, because the white woman was not expelled where the two African American legislators were expelled," said Holsworth. "The argument about that was to say that they violated decorum. But, the African American legislators used a bullhorn while the white woman didn't -- which makes no sense whatsoever. If you violated decorum, you violated decorum. Whether you did it loudly or mildly."

Tennessee House of Representatives Expelled

Like Tennessee, Virginia's Constitution allows lawmakers in the House of Delegates or State Senate to oust one of its own members with a two-thirds majority vote.

But, unlike Tennessee where Republicans have a super majority of members in its House of Representatives, the same cannot be said for either the Democrat-controlled Senate or Republican-controlled House in Virginia.

"Unless you have some big criminal activity -- very unlikely to happen, because the parties are relatively divided in both houses. In Virginia, we haven't expelled anybody since in a century, basically -- since 1926," said Holsworth. "We've had two senators, Peter Babalas, about 35 years ago, and Amanda Chase a few years ago, who were censured, but they weren't expelled."

Tennessee House of Representatives Expelled

Holsworth said the fallout from the Tennessee vote will happen in both the state itself and across the country.

"I think the question now in Tennessee is whether there's going to be a backlash from the corporate and business community about this," said Holsworth of the impact in Tennessee. "And whether or not they would become worried that Tennessee, which is trying to position itself as a economically progressive state, will in some ways, be tarnished just the way North Carolina was a few years ago with the bathroom bill."

Virginia General Assembly
Virginia General Assembly

In Virginia, Holsworth said with all 140 seats in the General Assembly up for grabs in November -- expect Democrats to turn the Tennessee vote into a campaign issue.

"'What you don't want,' the Democrats are going to say, 'is this one party control of Virginia state government over the next few years because the Republicans have shown us nationally what they're likely to do.'," said Holsworth.

Depend on CBS 6 News and WTVR.com for in-depth coverage of this important story. Anyone with more information can email newstips@wtvr.com to send a tip.