Toscano resigns, reconsiders House minority leader position

Delegate David Toscano will stick around as House minority leader for at least one more session. Submitted photo Delegate David Toscano will stick around as House minority leader for at least one more session. Submitted photo

Delegate David Toscano made two surprise announcements within two days. On November 12, he sent an e-mail to the Democratic caucus in the House of Delegates saying he was stepping down as minority leader. One day later, he says he changed his mind “when my cell phone blew up with caucus members and federal and state officials” urging him to stay on.

In the first announcement, Toscano, 65, a family law attorney who was elected minority leader in 2011, said he “no longer has the time and energy to commit to the job in a way necessary to perform it. My family and my work have often been forced to take a backseat over the last four years…”

Former mayor Kay Slaughter, who served with Toscano on City Council, says before the election, she and Toscano were “decrying how hard it is for a Democrat to win a seat because the districts are so gerrymandered. He said, ‘Maybe I should resign,’ and I said, ‘No, no, no, you do such a good job.’”    

When Toscano said he was stepping aside, says Slaughter, “I was surprised. I didn’t think he was serious.”

One day later, Toscano changed his mind “after considerable discussion” with his family, he says. “I was unprepared for the extent to which people wanted me to stay on.” His family, too, “was stunned like I was by the degree of support,” he says. 

A big factor was caucus members stepping up and saying, “We’ll help so you don’t have to take so much time from your family and work,” says Toscano. “I’ve been leader for four years. That’s when the time commitment ratcheted up. Now I don’t have to drive up to Northern Virginia or Hampton Roads. I’m energized I have all this support and people willing to work.”

He was elected minority leader at the November 14 Democratic caucus. Dems are vastly outnumbered by Republicans in the House, although they did gain two seats in November, which are enough to keep the Republicans from a veto-proof majority, and eight new members with “new energy,” says Toscano.

“I think he’s the right person in the leadership role,” says Slaughter. “I’m glad he’s staying in place.”

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