Democratic State Senator Resigns, Further Complicating Budget Standstill

Jun 9, 2014

As deliberation over the state budget continues with the deadline weeks away, the Virginia General Assembly is facing yet another roadblock. 

Credit Bob Brown/AP

Democratic State Senator Phillip Puckett of Russell County is announcing his resignation today, effective immediately.

Puckett’s sudden resignation will give Republicans a 20-19 majority in the Senate. Governor Terry McAuliffe is depending on Senate support for his expansion of Medicaid, which is staunchly opposed by the Republican-controlled House. McAuliffe says he is “deeply disappointed by the news and the uncertainty it creates” in the weeks before the state budget is due.

It is reported that Puckett has resigned to take a job with the State Tobacco Commission, and to allow his daughter, Martha Ketron, full judicial appointment. Puckett has served in the General Assembly since 1998. 

Martha Ketron is already serving as a Juvenile and Domestic Relations District court judge, but is currently serving a temporary appointment. The senate refused to confirm her initially due to a policy against appointing relatives of sitting legislators to the bench – and Puckett’s resignation would guarantee Ketron a 6-year appointment.