Commentary, National Commentary

Senator Dick Saslaw’s Richmond Report

The end of May marks an important time of reflection and remembrance across the country. Memorial Day reminds us of the sacrifices that are made daily to protect our democracy and uphold the values our country was founded on. We must never forget the bravery and courage of those who made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of the freedoms we cherish. 

As the calendar turns to June, the upcoming primary and general elections become top of mind. As one of the last remaining Democratic strongholds in the South, we need to expand our Democratic majority now more than ever. We are the last southern state where a woman can access the reproductive healthcare she needs, and we are one of the last holding the line on voting accessibility and protecting public education from harmful policies. Over the last two years, Senate Democrats have been playing defense. When we were in the majority, we made significant strides by raising the minimum wage, ending the death penalty, providing historic raises for teachers, and significant funding for education, but that was just the beginning. There is major work yet to be done on gun violence prevention and mental healthcare access.

Today, very little stands between Governor Youngkin and his ability to dramatically shift the way Virginia operates. For the last two years, the Senate Democrats have been the only thing preventing Republicans from turning the Commonwealth into Florida. Republicans have tried to break down our caucus, but we have held strong against every attempt. It is imperative we elect candidates this election season who will continue to build on the progress we have made and fight tirelessly against attempts to wind back the clock in Virginia.

With the primaries rapidly approaching on June 20, I urge you to get involved to support incumbent candidates. As you may know, the Senate is guaranteed to lose at least 30 percent of its current makeup due to retirements and other career opportunities. As we usher in a new wave of Virginia politicians, it is especially important for us to continue our support of current members who have the trusted experience for Northern Virginia. I have fully endorsed Senators Dave Marsden, George Barker, and Chap Petersen—all of whom have been legislative titans for our region. They have ensured Northern Virginia has received its fair share of funding and attention over the years. I cannot stress how important their roles have been in shaping the success of our community. Their experience will help guide newly-elected Democrats to success in their first few years in the legislature. I welcome your support of their re-election campaigns and encourage you to vote for them. Early in-person voting is currently underway until June 17 and absentee ballots are available to request until June 9. For more information, you can go to

Thanks to the efforts of Democrats in 2020 and 2021, we’ve made the voting process more accessible for everyone. We expanded early voting and simplified absentee ballots, and as a result, more people have been participating in elections. Unfortunately, Republicans have continued to attack the changes we made. From attempts to end absentee voting entirely, to now removing Virginia from a bipartisan voter database, Republicans are targeting accessibility and election safety. In particular, Governor Youngkin’s recent withdrawal from the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC) puts our voter rolls at risk for fraudulent activity — which has ironically been a frequent Republican talking point since the 2020 presidential election. It is my expectation and hope that this partisan withdrawal will not affect the coming election.

I would be remiss if I did not mention the pending federal debt ceiling crisis. As it stands today, it appears President Biden and House Republicans have come to an agreement to fix the looming disaster. Experts have predicted that, due to Virginia’s high number of federal employees and robust military community, we would be disproportionately affected if Congress were to default on the debt. I am hopeful a compromise will be definitively reached, to avoid catastrophic economic repercussions. 

As I continue to serve out my final months in office, please continue to reach out with any questions, concerns, or constituent requests. My staff can be reached at


  • Dick Saslaw

    Dick Saslaw represents the 35th District in the Virginia State Senate. He may be emailed at