State Senate blocks Northam push to move local elections to November

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The State Senate on Wednesday killed a budget amendment from Gov. Ralph Northam to move May 5 local elections scheduled in several localities across the Commonwealth to November.

There does seem to be some sentiment among legislators in both the Senate and the House, which only approved the measure by a 47-45 vote earlier in the day, toward considering other options in a special session, but that would have to come quickly, with those May elections now less than two weeks away.

Northam had first introduced the idea of moving the local elections to November two weeks ago, and seemed confident that there would be bipartisan support.

A group of local Valley Republicans came out in opposition to the move a few days later, suggesting that the elections be held in conjunction with congressional primaries scheduled in June.

The notion that the measure would get broad bipartisan support was felled quickly when the House voted at first to kill the amendment, ahead of a reconsideration motion that provided the opportunity for the second vote that passed it by the two-vote margin.

The Senate didn’t even take a recorded vote on the measure, which failed by a voice vote that was decisive enough that no senator asked for a recorded vote.

Waynesboro and Staunton are among the localities in Virginia set to elect members to local offices on May 5.

Northam issued a statement on the matter late Wednesday, saying he will “review the General Assembly’s actions on scheduling local elections and announce next steps soon,” which, no, doesn’t say much.

Story by Chris Graham

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