Democrats have taken control of the Virginia Senate, over the strong objections of state Republicans. Tuesday’s shake-up tossed some GOP members from key committees and installed Democrats as chairmen.
They pushed through the changes, after the newest member of the Senate, Democrat Lynwood Lewis, took his seat in the chamber. Lewis narrowly won a special election earlier this month and prevailed during a recount on Monday.
Although the Senate is now evenly split, Democrats have the advantage because Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam holds the tie-breaking vote.
"And since we’re now in the majority," said Senator John Edwards (D-Roanoke), "George Mason in his manual of parliamentary procedure says the majority has the right to make the rules. And that’s what we’ve done."
"What the Democrats did today was take a hundred years of rules, of laws, of precedent, of basically tradition in the Senate and they threw them all away," said Senator Bill Stanley (R-Franklin County), "so I think anything goes in the Senate when it comes to these rules. They better hope that they have all 20 members on every day."
Stanley says Republicans from central and western Virginia have lost seats on key committees, but Roanoke Senator John Edwards says the changes should be good for the region, because western Virginia picked up three seats on the powerful Senate Finance Committee.