The Republican speaker of the House of Delegates, the only elected branch of the Commonwealth government still in Republican control, has extracted some payback for his party's losses in November. He has stripped senior Democrats of long-standing committee assignments, thus reducing their input and influence over key legislation. At the same time, he has assigned Democratic leaders to committees on which they will need to make votes that may become 2009 campaign fodder.
The two highest ranking Democrats in the Republican-controlled House were removed from two of the three committees they had each spent a dozen years or more on.At the same time Speaker Howell put Brian Moran, likely Democratic candidate for Governor, on committees which handle tax and gun issues, thus potentially creating a circumstance where Del. Moran is asked to cast votes which could divide his support (ROVA vs. NOVA, in the standard, if inaccurate, construction) in various parts of Virginia.
Del. Ward L. Armstrong (D-Henry), House minority leader, was left on Courts of Justice and taken off General Laws and Counties, Cities and Towns. Del. Brian J. Moran (D-Alexandria), House Democratic caucus chairman, was left on Courts of Justice but taken off Transportation and Health, Welfare and Institutions. - Anita Kumar, The Washington Post
Moran's spokesman, Jesse Ferguson, wasn't quite so diplomatic. He speculates that Howell is paying back Armstrong and Moran, who helped Democrats increase their numbers in the House this year.Of course, Del. Howell s the same man who helped stop some of the subcommittee votes that Del. Moran would have to make from being recorded publicly. In effect, Howell may have handed Moran transparency in the Assembly as a campaign issue.