New legislative map nudges out Quayle

Published 11:17 pm Friday, April 29, 2011

By Dale Liesch

The Tidewater News

FRANKLIN — The General Assembly’s apparent resolution to its battle over new legislative district lines could force a Suffolk senator out of his seat.


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The new voting boundaries, which Gov. Bob McDonnell signed into law Friday, would put Sen. Fred Quayle, R-Suffolk, in the same district as Sen. Harry Blevins, R-Chesapeake.

Quayle said he is happy to see the redistricting issue resolved but is unhappy with the bill that, in essence, eliminates his district.

“I am not going to challenge Senator Blevins in a primary,” Quayle said Friday. “He’s been too good a friend for too long.”

It was growth in Northern Virginia that gave the Senate no choice but to eliminate a seat in the southern portion of the state, said Blevins.

“Senator Quayle is a great guy, but it was not personal,” Blevins said. “It’s numbers. It’s all numbers.”

An earlier redistricting plan vetoed by McDonnell would have eliminated a district in Virginia Beach instead of Quayle’s district.

Blevins said he has not decided whether he will run again and wants to talk it over with his family before he makes a final decision. Quayle said he would run if Blevins decides not to run.

Quayle has been away from the state capital during this latest process because he is recuperating from surgery. He learned of the plan to eliminate his district earlier this week, when fellow Senator Tommy Norment called to tell him about the discussion.

“He wanted to know how I felt about that,” Quayle said. “I told him I didn’t like that idea at all.”

This newest attempt at redrawing district lines by the General Assembly passed this week with a 63-7 vote in the House and a 32-5 vote in the Senate.

In a statement Thursday night, McDonnell said this plan meets his approval.

“It is a great improvement over the previous plan that I vetoed and which failed to gain a single vote from the minority party,” McDonnell said. “I applaud the Republican and Democratic members of the Senate who worked well together to craft this compromise plan.”

Sen. Louise Lucas, D-Portsmouth, said the votes show that both sides agreed with the new plan.

“Most folks think it was the best we could do,” Lucas said. “We made the numbers work the best we could.”

Lucas also represents a large part of Suffolk.

“I’m satisfied with the outcome,” Lucas said. “I am going to do the best I can to represent everyone in my district.”

Delegate Bill Barlow, D-Smithfield, said he has mixed emotions about the new district lines in the House, as his district — House District 64 — will no longer stretch north of the James River. It also now includes a swath of southwestern Suffolk.

“Obviously, I could’ve gotten a better district, but I could have gotten a much worse district,” Barlow said. “It’s not a pretty process, but I look forward to working with the people in the newly configured district.”

Barlow said the redistricting process is not over. He believes there’s a 50-50 chance that the issue could still end up in court because of a lawsuit.

As for Quayle, the 20-year veteran senator jokingly said he was considering a run for a U.S. Senate seat.

“I’ve been in it 20 years and the district I represent did not exist before I was here,” Quayle said. “Maybe 20 years is long enough.”

— Suffolk News-Herald news editor Tracy Agnew contributed to this story.