Friday, June 12, 2009

Cascade of Ifs

State Senator R. Creigh Deeds of Bath County has been nominated to be the Democratic Party of Virginia's candidate for governor this year. Deeds represents the 25th Senate District, which includes Charlottesville and Albemarle and extends from that area to the West Virginia border. Deeds has represented this district since a special election held in December 2001, after the death of Emily Couric created a vacancy. Prior to that, Deeds served in the House of Delegates.

Should Senator Deeds win his bid for governor over Republican nominee Bob McDonnell, he will set in motion what could be a flurry of special elections. At Tuesday night's victory party at the Omni Hotel in Charlottesville, state Senator Donald McEachin and Senate Majority Leader Richard Saslaw were already referring to 57th District Delegate David Toscano as a future Senate colleague. (See the video below.)

Here's what could happen in the weeks after November 3:

If Deeds wins on November 3 and resigns his Senate seat shortly thereafter, Governor Tim Kaine will order a special election to fill the seat on Tuesday, December 19. (Virginia law requires that voting equipment be locked up for at least 30 days after an election, so in most cases a special election cannot be called before then.)

If the likely Democratic nominee for the Senate seat, David Toscano, wins the special election, there will be a vacancy in the House of Delegates. Governor Kaine can then order a special election to fill that vacancy as early in January as possible, probably the Tuesday after the General Assembly convenes.

If a member of the Charlottesville City Council seeks to succeed Toscano (the seat has been filled by former City Councilors for at least 28 years) and wins in the overwhelmingly Democratic district, there will be a vacancy in that legislative body. So a special election would have to be called for February to fill that seat. (Unlike some county boards of supervisors and other city councils, Charlottesville's council lacks the power to appoint a new member to fill a vacancy; it must be filled by election according to the city charter.)

Finally, if a current member of the Charlottesville School Board decides to run for City Council, and wins, there could be a special election to fill that School Board seat. (I say "could be" because it may be possible for either the School Board or the City Council to fill the vacancy by appointment. Perhaps somebody could look it up.)

Barring the unlikelihood that a Republican could win one of these post-November elections, if all these "ifs" line up, that would mean Charlottesville voters would go to the polls in as many as five consecutive months: November, December, January, February, and perhaps March, as well.

As an Electoral Board member who would have to supervise those elections, this scenario gives me the strongest personal reason to root for Bob McDonnell this November.

(For more photos from the Creigh Deeds victory party in Charlottesville, look on Facebook. For video of Creigh Deeds' speech on primary night, go here.)

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