The VA General Assembly's Revolving Door

Jul 8, 2014

In June, four state lawmakers unexpectedly resigned their seats in the General Assembly. While legislative retirements are not unusual, four Democrats in one month calling it quits before their terms expire is not the norm—and left many to wonder why.  But, the answer may be as simple as timing and opportunity. 


Senator Phil Puckett left first. He said he did not want to be an obstacle to his daughter’s selection as a judge—due to the Senate’s policy of not choosing judges who are related to sitting senators. Then Delegates Robert Brink and Algie Howell and Senator Henry Marsh resigned.  Governor McAuliffe approves of the last three.

 “I think it’s exciting. If people have served and want to go on and do something else, I encourage that. I always love when we can bring in some new blood, new creative ideas.” And they ARE doing “something else.” With more than three years left in the governor’s term, Brink became deputy commissioner of the Department of Aging, while McAuliffe just appointed Marsh as state ABC Board commissioner and Howell as vice-chair of the Parole Board.  Each will earn a six-figure salary.  If they stay on, their retirement benefits would be based on 36 consecutive months of their highest compensation—instead of the roughly $17,000 in annual pay for delegates and $18,000 for senators. Special elections will be held on August 19th for the vacant seats that were held by Puckett, Howell, and Brink.