State Senator Newman won’t run for re-election, ending 35 years of public service

Virginia State Senator Steve Newman (R-23)
Virginia State Senator Steve Newman (R-23)(Office of Virginia State Senator Steve Newman)
Published: Mar. 15, 2023 at 10:26 AM EDT
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FOREST, Va. (WDBJ) - Virginia State Senator Steve Newman (R-23) says he is not seeking re-election to the Virginia Senate in 2023, a move that will end a 35-year career in public service to Central Virginia.

Newman said, “After 35 years of service I look forward to spending much more time with my wife, children, and a new grandbaby. We have run a good race and it’s time to allow others to serve.”

At age 23, Newman was elected to Lynchburg City Council in 1988 to represent Ward 3. He followed that by serving in the Virginia House of Delegates from 1992 to 1996, then was elected to the Senate, where he has served since. Newman has served under nine governors, from Governor Doug Wilder to Governor Glenn Youngkin.

During his time in the Senate of Virginia, Senator Newman served as the President Pro Tempore, the highest elected office in the Senate, voted in by all members of the Senate. Newman was also selected to serve as Chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee and the Senate Education & Health Committee. He has also been a member since 2012 of the Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee, where he’s served as a budget negotiator.

Newman said, “This is a bittersweet time for me and my family. It’s bitter because I’m leaving an institution I love and the individuals in the Senate and on my staff that have worked with me to better serve Central Virginia. But it’s a sweet time because I know I will be able to now spend more time with my family, friends, and business. The Lord tells us to run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Kim and I believe we have finished this part of our race and it is our prayer that we one day hear “well done good and faithful servants.”

“I have so many reasons to be thankful!” he continues. " I’ve enjoyed serving the good people of our community through Lynchburg City Council, the Virginia House of Delegates, and the Senate of Virginia. I am grateful for the confidence placed in me by each and every voter. In the end, I’ve spent the majority of my legislative career in the Senate – 28 years in total. The Senate of Virginia is different from the House of Delegates or the United States Congress. We are a collegial body and I count friends on both sides of the political aisle. We often disagree on policy, but always work well together and debate our disagreements in a respectful manner. I will take with me many lifelong friends from my time in the Senate. I am so gratified that so many leaders of the Senate both Republican and Democrats that have expressed such kind remarks about my decision to retire. Words cannot express my gratitude for their kindness.”

The following are quotes from Senator Newman regarding professional accomplishments:


I’m grateful for the many major pieces of legislation I’ve been fortunate to be to carry over the years including: the Transportation Reform Act and the state’s major Education Reform package under Governor McDonnell that gave Virginia’s parents more options in education. There were so many more bill that I was privileged to carry:

Cutting Taxes and Improving Life for Working Virginians

I have been one of the Senate’s strongest supporters of tax relief including the original car tax relief under Governor Gilmore. Over the past many years, I have carried or authored many other tax relief bills. I was able to write, along with Senator Norment, the largest tax cut in Virginia history: the $1 billion in tax relief that went back to working Virginians in 2019. My office and I have worked with many businesses and families in Central Virginia as they navigated state government agencies. And during the depths of the COVID-19 pandemic, I tried to communicate as much information as I could via social media to help all Central Virginians through the confusing and debilitating government restrictions with a goal of keeping everyone safe while helping businesses stay afloat and enabling families to be connected.

Mental Health and CVTC

I am also pleased to have worked on many mental health bills for adults and children. I’ve worked with Horizon Behavior Health Care to bring a Regional Crisis Receiving Center to Lynchburg that will serve our friends and neighbors in mental health crisis, while also freeing local law enforcement to do the job they are called to do.

In recent years I have worked to pass bills related to the state training centers. I believe that God has asked us to take care of those who cannot take care of themselves. Even as a conservative legislator, I have fought for these individuals in the training centers that needed the most help. Now that our local training center is closed, I have worked closely with our legislative delegation and economic development advocates to prepare the property for its next great chapter in the Lynchburg region. This year we passed a bill authorizing 90 new nursing home beds on a small portion of the former Central Virginia Training Center property. This bill will produce scores of jobs, provide nursing home beds we desperately need for our elderly, and provide millions of needed dollars for the removal of the dilapidated buildings at CVTC.

Budget: Over $100 Million for our Area

I am grateful for the trust my Senate colleagues have placed in me as a Senate budget negotiator. This senior budget position has allowed me to bring back nearly $100 Million in special funding for our area. This has included tens of million for bridges (such as Odd Fellows Road over Rt. 460) and special appropriation for the new College Lake project. I’ve had the honor of advocating for scores of other transportation projects in our region. Recently, I helped get the study funds for an inland port and this year another $200,000 to find rail-centric economic development opportunities in Region 2000. I added nearly $100,000 for local police mental health screening. Working with my staff we were able to accomplish the defeasment of $25 million in outstanding bonds at CTVC a full 14 years ahead of schedule. We added even more in February 2023 by placing an additional $6 million in the Senate budget to incentivize investors in the CVTC property. We have also added millions to the state budget for salary increases for sheriff’s offices and police officers in our area to ensure local public safety is top notch.

Constituents – Thank You

Throughout the years there have also been numerous donors and volunteers who’ve given of their time, talents, and treasures to allow me the opportunity to serve the good people of Central Virginia. I am so grateful for each of you. I want to express how honored I have been to represent you and vote for you on the floor of the Senate of Virginia. This trust represents one of the greatest honors of my life.

Also, I have been so blessed to have Sarah Owen provide all my constituent and legislative services for many years. Sarah is the best of the best. I am excited to see what God has next for Sarah, as she is an amazing talent with much more to give our Commonwealth. Over the years I have enjoyed the service of many remarkable staff members like Patti Dempsey and so many more.

My Sweet Family

Most of all, I am thankful for my wonderful family. My parents, Roy and Iva, who told me at the age of 23 they were ‘all in’ for my race to be on Lynchburg City Council. They have been there for me ever since. And my wife, Kim, who I literally could not be here without. She is my childhood sweetheart and a tremendous helpmate during every single day of my public service. She was there with me at age 23 when I knocked on my very first door in Fairview Heights and nervously asked the residents for their vote. She was here at home in Forest managing a family when I was serving in Richmond. We now have two grown sons, and they are a great testament to her strength and kindness. Kim has loved me through all the ups and downs of public service, and I love her for her sacrifice and support every single day. My son Wesley is now a graduate student at Liberty University and is also a great friend to me. And my wonderful Tyler is married to Callie, and they have a successful small business and gave me and Kim our first grandchild, Brooks. There is nothing like being “papa”. Our children and grandchild are Kim’s and my future and I am looking forward to spending much more time with my sweet family in the years ahead.

So, this is not a final farewell as we will see even more of one another around town, but a heartfelt ‘thank you.’ Thank you to all the citizens of Central Virginia for the honor of allowing me and my family to serve you and your family over the past 35 years.”

The following are statements from other Virginia senators regarding Newman’s retirement:

Senator Richard Saslaw (D- Fairfax):

“Steve Newman is one of the most well-liked and well-respected members of the General Assembly. No matter the magnitude of differences, he always sought to bring together opposing sides and find common ground on the issues that matter. The Senator’s announcement to not seek re-election to the Senate is a huge loss for his constituents and the Commonwealth. I am joined by many colleagues wishing Steve the best in the next chapter of his journey.”

Senator Louise Lucas (D- Portsmouth):

“While I am fond of many of my colleagues, it is difficult to find words to adequately describe the friendship that I share with Senator Steve Newman. Politically, we differ on many issues but have never allowed that to interfere with the bond we share. Steve and I were seat-mates for twelve years and without a doubt, when his party was in the majority, he intervened when others sought to remove me from positions of seniority on standing committees. I was saddened when I was told that my dear friend has decided to retire but I respect his decision. He is a kind, compassionate, Christian man and I am truly grateful for his friendship. I can’t imagine anyone that will miss seeing him in the Senate more than I will. But I will not allow distance to dim my affection for him because he is only a phone call away.”

Senator Thomas Norment (R- James City County):

“Senator Steve Newman is the embodiment of what it truly means to be a Virginia statesman. The incalculable number of positive, life-changing contributions he has made to the Commonwealth of Virginia will be enjoyed by Virginians for generations to come. I have the ultimate appreciation for Steve’s long-term engagement on the most vital issues before the Senate of Virginia, his collaborative sensibilities that allowed him to reach across the aisle, and his unwavering commitment to improving the daily lives of Virginians throughout the Commonwealth. While Steve and I will no longer be seatmates in the Senate, I am proud of the friendship we have built after more than two decades of public service together will last for years to come. The Senate will truly miss him.”

Senator Mark Obenshain (R- Harrisonburg):

“Steve has been a great friend, valued colleague and trusted advisor since I first arrived in the Senate. He is an extraordinary conservative leader who has earned the respect of every member of the Senate where he is the gold standard for civility and collegiality. Steve has been an incredibly effective, principled and humble servant leader. His knowledge amassed over his 32 years in the legislature will be missed, but not as much as we are going to miss the example he has set for his colleagues and friends. I join them in wishing Steve, Kim and the rest of their family great happiness and success in all of their future endeavors.”

Senator Mark Peake (R- Lynchburg):

“I want to thank Senator Newman and his wife Kim for his many years of service to the Commonwealth. Senator Newman’s commitment to his constituents has been unparalleled. Steve has led with integrity and professionalism for over 30 years in the legislature. I consider Steve to be the moral conscience of the Senate. He is held in the highest regard by both sides of the aisle which has allowed him to bring both sides together to pass legislation vital to the Commonwealth. Steve has always led by example and demonstrated the character of a true Gentleman Legislator. His leadership in the Senate will be sorely missed. His retirement will create a huge hole for Central Virginia. I am glad he will get to spend more time with Kim, Wes, Tyler, Callie, and his new grandson Brooks.”