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Blevins retirement could help Suffolk

Published 10:48pm Thursday, April 18, 2013

Harry Blevins’ departure from the Virginia Senate gives Suffolk and Western Tidewater the opportunity to fill an influence void in Richmond.

Blevins, a Chesapeake Republican, announced recently that he will retire from elected service on Aug. 5. Gov. Bob McDonnell promptly set a special election for Aug. 6 to determine who will fill Blevins’ unexpired term.

Here’s hoping a qualified Suffolk candidate will throw his or her hat into the ring. Suffolk and Western Tidewater have not had resident representation in the Senate since Fred Quayle, who had served the city and region with distinction in Richmond for many years, was nudged out of the General Assembly by a misguided redistricting process following the 2010 Census.

Quayle, ever the gentleman and statesman, deferred to his good friend and colleague Blevins rather than run against him in a GOP primary or caucus. It was an uncommon gesture in politics, one befitting Quayle’s character, but Suffolk has been the poorer in Richmond without Quayle’s influence in the Senate.

The Hampton Roads metropolitan area has plenty of representation in Richmond. No knock on Del. John Cosgrove, the Chesapeake Republican who has already announced his intention to run for the Senate District 14 opening, but the western, rural communities of Hampton Roads need their own voice in the Senate. No matter how hard they may try, urban and suburban lawmakers can’t fully understand the needs and priorities of Western Tidewater.

Voters need to at least have a choice to elect one of their own as Blevins’ successor. Prospective candidates have until June 7 to qualify for the August special election. We can think of several fine Suffolk citizens — some currently in elected service, some not — who would make terrific candidates and lawmakers. We hope at least one will jump into the race to replace Blevins.

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