Republican Sen. Newman Resigns from Redistricting Commission

In a surprising move, Republican Sen. Steve Newman (R-Bedford) announced in a tweet September 3 that he will resign as a member of the Virginia Redistricting Commission, effective September 6. 

In his statement, Newman said, “I have enjoyed working with my colleagues on the Virginia Redistricting Commission for the past nine months. Approved by the voters last November, the bipartisan Commission is in its first year and I wish them well as they continue to navigate unchartered territory.”

Newman was one of two Republican senators appointed by Senate Minority Leader Tommy Norment to serve on the 16-member commission. It will now be up to Norment to name a replacement from the Senate ranks. One of Norment’s citizen nominees, Marvin Gilliam, a coal mining executive from Bristol, resigned on July 6; he was replaced by Virginia Trost-Thornton who, like Newman, lives in Forest, VA. 

In recent weeks, Newman had expressed concern about whether the commission would be able to win the General Assembly’s approval for its maps. He had been a strong proponent of hiring separate partisan legal counsel for the commission, saying such an approach would give members of the General Assembly greater confidence in the maps. Some citizen members pushed back on that, and the commission recently voted to “start from scratch” when it drew its maps, rather than considering current boundaries. At a recent commission meeting, Newman had noted that he did not intend to run again when his term expires in 2023. 

Newman’s resignation comes at the very start of the commission’s 45-day window for preparing its maps, now the the Census data has been received. Over the next weeks, the commission has adopted an aggressive schedule to complete its work; the commission is also now required to achieve a quorum of both legislative and citizen members, now that restrictions related to meeting during the Covid-19 pandemic have been relaxed. 

–Sara Fitzgerald, LWV-Falls Church

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