With Republican gains, influence of western Virginia lawmakers on the rise

Published: Dec. 27, 2021 at 8:14 PM EST
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - As Republicans prepare to take control of the Virginia House of Delegates, the influence of lawmakers in western Virginia is on the rise.

Republican success in the November 2 election will bring new leadership to the House and lawmakers from western Virginia will be leading the charge.

“Over the last, almost a decade, the influence and voice from southwest and southside Virginia has been diminished, and some of the key issues largely ignored in terms of Richmond,” said Virginia Tech Professor and WDBJ7 Political Analyst Bob Denton. “This is a very important turnaround.”

The new Speaker of the House, Todd Gilbert, lives in the Shenandoah Valley.

The new House Majority Leader, Terry Kilgore, and his deputy, Israel O’Quinn, are from the southwest.

And Botetourt County Delegate Terry Austin and Bedford County’s Kathy Byron will chair the Transportation and Labor and Commerce committees respectively.

Denton said it could make a difference on issues important to the region.

“There are some very unique regional aspects in terms of funding, as it relates to education, as it relates to transportation,” Denton said. “At least our part of the Commonwealth will have an opportunity to get things up for a vote, at least get things in terms of committee that will be discussed and not immediately dismissed.”

And as the Speaker of the House and the Governor-elect announce additional appointments, we could see more people with western Virginia roots taking leadership roles in Richmond.

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