Virginia’s Speaker of the House of Delegates announced retirement, but another political move might be around the corner

Eileen Filler-Corn, a prominent Virginia Democrat who made history as the first woman and first Jewish person to serve as Speaker of the House of Delegates, announced on Monday that she will not seek re-election this year. Her decision comes amid a wave of retirements from both parties in the state legislature, as well as speculation about her possible run for governor in 2025.

Filler-Corn, 58, has represented Fairfax County’s 41st District since 2010, when she won a special election by just 37 votes. She quickly rose through the ranks of her party, becoming Minority Leader in 2019 and then Speaker in 2020, after Democrats gained control of both chambers for the first time in more than two decades.

As Speaker, Filler-Corn presided over an ambitious and progressive agenda that included expanding voting rights, raising the minimum wage, legalizing marijuana, abolishing the death penalty, ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment and passing sweeping police reforms. She also led her caucus through the challenges of governing during a pandemic, holding virtual sessions and adopting new rules to allow remote participation.

Filler-Corn said in a statement that she was proud of her accomplishments and grateful for her constituents’ support. She also thanked her family for their sacrifices and encouragement. “It has been an honor to serve my community for over a decade,” she said. “I am humbled by all we have achieved together.”

She did not give a specific reason for her retirement, but hinted at exploring other opportunities. “While I will not be on the ballot this November, I look forward to continuing to fight for our shared values,” she said. “There is still much work to be done.”

In an interview with The Washington Post, Filler-Corn confirmed that she is considering running for governor in 2025, when Democratic incumbent Ralph Northam will be term-limited. She said she has received encouragement from supporters across the state and believes she has what it takes to lead Virginia. “I have proven myself as someone who can get things done,” she said.

Filler-Corn’s announcement came on the same day that another influential Democrat, Del. Lynwood Lewis of Accomack County, said he would also retire after serving since 2004. Lewis chairs the Senate Agriculture Committee and is a member of several other panels.

They join at least 16 other lawmakers who have decided not to run again this year, including former House Speaker Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights), who lost his bid for governor last year; Senate Minority Leader Tommy Norment (R-James City); Senate President Pro Tempore Louise Lucas (D-Portsmouth); and Del. Luke Torian (D-Prince William), who chairs the House Appropriations Committee.

The exodus comes amid uncertainty over redistricting, which was delayed by census data issues and legal challenges. A bipartisan commission tasked with drawing new legislative maps has yet to finalize its proposal, leaving candidates unsure about their districts’ boundaries and demographics.

Some political observers say that Filler-Corn’s departure could create an opening for Republicans to regain control of the House, where Democrats currently hold a slim 55-45 majority. However, others argue that Democrats have a strong bench of candidates and will benefit from Northam’s popularity and President Biden’s policies.

Regardless of who succeeds Filler-Corn as Speaker or Minority Leader next year, they will have big shoes to fill. Filler-Corn has been widely praised by her colleagues and allies for her leadership skills, policy vision and personal integrity.

“Speaker Filler-Corn broke barriers as both our first woman speaker & our first Jewish speaker,” tweeted Del. Danica Roem (D-Manassas), who made history herself as Virginia’s first openly transgender lawmaker in 2017. “She led us through one helluva pandemic & helped us pass some damn good bills along with it.”

Viola Higgins

I’m a mother of 2 little angels that I continuously try to figure out and spend the other half figuring out how to be a great wife. Writing is my passion and I write regularly for the Virginian Tribune and several other national news outlets.

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