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Virginia’s Clout Plummets With Cantor’s Defeat, Retirements

Goodlatte is a Republican from Virginia. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Goodlatte is a Republican from Virginia. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s primary defeat marks the latest in a series of losses for the Old Dominion’s influence in Congress after 2014.  

In addition to the Virginia Republican’s departure, the delegation will lose its two most senior House members and its only seats on the appropriations committee: Democrat James P. Moran and Republican Frank R. Wolf have already announced
their retirements . Together, Cantor, Moran and Wolf have served 36 terms, a number that contributed to making their delegation one of the most influential and powerful this Congress. Virginia placed sixth in the most recent edition of the Roll Call Clout Index , which ranks each state’s influence in Congress.  

Democratic Rep. Robert C. Scott said in a statement that the delegation had not seen a decline in influence this dramatic “in a long time,” and he said any state “certainly has an advantage when the majority leader is a member of the delegation.”  

But Scott is optimistic that at least one Virginia member will join the appropriations committee after the midterms, and he emphasized that the delegation is “well postured” on the Armed Services Committee, which makes decisions important to Virginia’s economy.  

“You just have to pick up and work harder, nothing complicated about it,” Scott said, outlining his approach to maintaining Virginia’s influence in the next Congress.  

With Moran and Wolf retiring, Scott will share the designation of most senior House member from Virginia with GOP Rep. Robert W. Goodlatte. Scott noted that Goodlatte is “technically still ahead by virtue of the alphabet.”  

Aside from Cantor, Moran and Wolf, most of the delegation is expected to return after November. Virginia’s other eight House members are all running for re-election in safe seats. Democratic Sen. Mark Warner faces former Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie in a race rated Democrat Favored by the Rothenberg Report/CQ Roll Call.  

Virginia’s two senators, Warner and Tim Kaine, are ranked 59th and 93rd for seniority, respectively.  

In a written statement, Goodlatte said he is “confident that we will continue to make sure the voices of Virginians are heard loud and clear in Washington.”

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