Nov 13, 2023 - Politics

Virginia nominates first Black state House speaker

The incoming speaker. Photo: Courtesy of Virginia Mercury

Virginia Democrats in the House of Delegates chose Del. Don Scott as their speaker nominee in a caucus vote over the weekend.

Why it matters: Scott, a 58-year-old defense attorney of Portsmouth, is set to become the first Black person to lead the House in the state's history.

What they're saying: "I know there were so many other African American leaders … who were probably smarter than me, that were probably as tenacious and persistent as me. But they never got this opportunity because of their color," Scott told the Washington Post. "I carry all of those people with me."

  • House Democrats' agenda for the next two years would include initiating three constitutional amendments addressing abortion, same-sex marriage and automatic restoration of voter rights, he told the AP.
  • Scott said Democrats also plan to send Gov. Glenn Youngkin bills raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour and banning assault-style weapons.

House Republicans voted Sunday to keep outgoing House Speaker Todd Gilbert on as the caucus' leader in the minority.

The intrigue: Gilbert faced a challenge from Del. Terry Kilgore, currently No. 2 in the caucus, Cardinal News reports.

  • Ahead of the vote, some Republican delegates said they were frustrated with Gilbert for not challenging Youngkin's strategy of running on a 15-week abortion ban, which proved unpopular with voters, per the Post.
  • "We literally ran on one of the third rails of politics," one unnamed delegate told the Post.

The bottom line: Gilbert won, and Kilgore no longer has a leadership post.


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