Del. David Toscano (D-Charlottesville) announced Saturday that he will not be seeking reelection to represent the 57th District in Virginia this November.
Toscano has represented the 57th District — which includes Charlottesville and portions of Albemarle County — since 2006. He also served as House Minority Leader for seven years until retiring from his leadership position last November.
“I am proud of my contributions over the last 25 years of public service,” Toscano in his announcement on the House floor Saturday. “But there comes a time to write a new chapter. And for me, that time is now.”
During his announcement, Toscano pointed to major bills passed while he served in the House, specifically the 2013 transportation bill and 2018 Medicaid expansion.
“Those two bills show we can put aside regional and ideological differences in recognition of the fact that we are truly one Commonwealth, and that we rise and fall together,” Toscano said.
His decision to retire was not the result of the surrounding Virginia’s top three officials, Toscano said in his announcement. Gov. Ralph Northam (D-Va.), Attorney General Mark Herring (D-Va.) and Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax (D-Va.) are all facing pressure to resign.
“People may try to read a lot into this announcement, especially in light of recent developments,” Toscano said. “That would be a mistake. As some of you in this body already know, my decision has been in the making for some time, though various events have conspired to delay it.”
According to Larry Sabato, Center of Politics director and professor of politics, the recent scandals involving Northam, Herring and Fairfax could result in a low Democratic turnout at the Nov. 5 elections.
“Before the three top Democrats became embroiled in scandals, I would have said the Democrats were the favorites to take over at least one house, maybe both houses, of the General Assembly,” Sabato said in an email statement to The Cavalier Daily. “But Northam, Fairfax, and Herring have become weights around the necks of Democratic nominees for the state legislature. Their travails may depress Democratic turnout in an already low-turnout election.”
Sally Hudson, an assistant professor of public policy, education and economics at the Batten School, is currently the only candidate for the 57th District’s seat in the Virginia House of Delegates. Hudson challenged Toscano for the seat in December, for more progressive leadership in the state.
Hudson is the founder of FairVote Virginia — a nonpartisan coalition advocating for ranked choice voting — and is also an active member in OneVirginia2021, a campaign finance reform organization, and Women of the Fifth, a Charlottesville-based grassroots organization.
She has been endorsed by former Congressional candidate Leslie Cockburn, Charlottesville City Council member Heather Hill and Indivisible Charlottesville — a local group “oppose the Trump agenda” and increase government accountability — among others.
While the scandals surrounding Virginia’s top officials have important consequences for the state, Charlottesville can be counted on to produce a high voter turnout, Hudson said in an interview with The Cavalier Daily.
“As much as what’s happening in Richmond has implications for voters across the Commonwealth, Charlottesville is experiencing a surge of civic engagement,” Hudson said. “We had presidential level turnout in the midterms, both in Charlottesville and Albemarle County. I think in many ways folks are more engaged here than ever before. A lot of folks may be worried about low voter turnout elsewhere, but you can count on Charlottesville voters to turn up.”
Hudson cited the cost of healthcare as the top economic issue facing Charlottesville today.
“Last year we saw the highest health insurance premium spikes in the country, and we have families here paying $3,000 a month in their premiums, and that’s just not sustainable,” Hudson said.
According to Hudson, the Charlottesville candidate has a special role in the General Assembly, and should be able to take the lead in forming compromises and clearly articulating the district’s values.
“We play a special role in the General Assembly, of stretching people’s sense of what’s possible,” Hudson said. “That there are more moderate constituents we can count on to strike those compromises, and that Charlottesville has to be a strong, confident voice for our progressive values.”
The deadline for filing candidacy in the House of Delegates race is March 28.
Since Del. Toscano retired only days ago, another candidate is likely to enter the race, said Kathryn Williams, University Democrats communications chair and second-year College student in an email.
“Since the 57th district is a very democratic district, we expect to see someone relatively progressive and willing to make the positive change in Virginia and support democratic legislation in accordance with what the people of the 57th district expect,” Williams said.
University Democrats has worked closely with Del. Toscano during his time in the House, Williams said. Members have worked to further his legislative agenda and have traveled to Richmond to see him in session and advocate for bills. Several members have worked on his staff.
“Due to our close connection, we want to wish Delegate Toscano the best in his retirement and remind him that he is always welcome on grounds,” Williams said.