Local Commentary

Delegate Hull’s Richmond Report

hullmugMore Legislative Elections

Just when you thought it was all over, it begins anew. Yes, election time is coming up in two legislative districts.

On Monday, Governor Tim Kaine signed writs for special elections to select successors to two members of the state Senate elected to other offices last month.

One of the elections will be in western Fairfax County in the 37th district for the vacant seat of Ken Cuccinelli, who was elected attorney general of Virginia.

In Virginia Beach, there will be an election to fill the vacancy created when Ken Stolle, who had represented the 8th Senate district since 1992, was elected Sheriff.

Both men are Republicans and they each resigned their Senate seats following their November election victories.

The special elections will be held on Tuesday, January 12, 2010, and the deadline for candidates wishing to run for either seat is next Friday, December 11.

The Virginia Beach district is considered to be heavily Republican, but Democrats see hope in Cuccinelli’s seat.

Voters in that Senate district have selected Democrats in recent elections and there will be a strong Democratic nominee.

Delegate Dave Marsden, a Democrat who was just re-elected to a third term in the House, has announced his intention to run for that seat.

Of course, as the results of our last election showed, past voter history is no guarantee of future behavior.

The weather in January is also unpredictable and could lower voter participation even below the normally low turn-out of a special election.

A Great Loss

Virginia lost a great leader when John Warren Cooke, former Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates, passed away last Saturday.

He was 94-years-old when he died at his longtime home, Palace Green, on Put In Creek in Mathews County in the Middle Peninsula of Virginia.

Mr. Cooke, whose father was 76 years old when he was born, may have been the last surviving child of a Civil War veteran in the United States.

His father, Giles Buckner Cooke, who became an Episcopal priest, was an Army major in the Confederacy and served on the personal staff of General Robert E. Lee.

Mr. Cooke was first elected to the House of Delegates in 1941 at the age of 26 and the Democratic caucus elected him secretary in 1944.

He was elected caucus chair in 1950 and Majority Leader in 1956. The House elected him Speaker in 1968.

He served as Speaker until he decided not to run for re-election in 1979. At the time of his retirement, his 38 years of service in the House set a record.

Mr. Cooke was the first Speaker of the House to give Republicans regular committee assignments.

Until then, Democratic Speakers either did not give Republicans any committee assignments or appointed them to minor committees that rarely met.

He was quoted as saying more than 20 years after his retirement that he had still not gotten over the era of massive resistance in the 1950s.

A stalwart of the Byrd political organization, he defied their efforts to prevent school desegregation and voted to keep public schools open.

I met Mr. Cooke in 1978 when he was Speaker. I found him to be very nice and the epitome of a Virginia gentleman.

Every person whom I have ever spoken with about him over the years has described his fairness and gracious, courteous manner.

His passing is a great loss to the Commonwealth of Virginia. John Warren Cooke set the benchmark for civility to which all Virginia legislators should aspire.






Delegate Scott represents the 53rd District in the Virginia House of Delegates. He may be emailed at deljscott@aol.com