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by Brandon Jarvis

Todd Gilbert (R-Shenandoah) will be the next Speaker of the House when the chamber gavels back into session this January. Current Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn (D-Fairfax) will continue to lead the Democratic Caucus as they will now be in the minority. 

Both caucuses met Sunday to decide who will lead them moving forward with a new Republican majority in the House. Barring any changes from recounts which officials say is not likely, Republicans will have a 52-48 majority.

Speaker-designee Gilbert started serving in the House in 2006 and took over Republican leadership from Kirk Cox when he stepped down after losing the majority in 2019.

“I am proud to serve with and lead a strong and united Republican majority as we look toward the 2022 General Assembly session and beyond,” Gilbert said Sunday. “I am humbled by the vote of trust and confidence by my colleagues. When we were in the minority, no one believed that we could return to where we are now. But we rallied together, worked together, and won together. I could not be more proud to be a member, let alone the leader, of this caucus.”

Del. Terry Kilgore (R-Scott) was poised to challenge Gilbert for Speaker until the two struck a deal to endorse each other. “I am grateful to my colleagues for their support as Majority Leader and look forward to serving Speaker-designee Gilbert and the Republican caucus,” Kilgore said Sunday.

Del. Kathy Byron (Bedford) will be serving as Republican caucus chair and Del. Jay Leftwich (Chesapeake) will be serving as whip. 

“The leadership team of Todd Gilbert, Terry Kilgore, Kathy Byron, and Jay Leftwich elected today by the Virginia House Republican Caucus is best positioned to work with Virginia Democrats to get results for Virginians,” Gov-elect Glenn Youngkin (R) said in a statement Sunday. 

The House Democrats kept the leadership at the top the same with the current Majority Leader Charniele Herring being chosen to serve as caucus chair. Filler-Corn and the caucus did not release any statements Sunday after choosing their leaders. 

In addition to Filler-Corn and Herring, Del. Betsy Carr (Richmond) will be serving as the caucus’ treasurer, Del. Marcus Simon (Fairfax) will be secretary, and Del. Jeion Ward (Hampton) will be vice-chair of operations. 

The Democrats still have a slim 21-19 majority in the state Senate which will be their only line of defense against a Republican governor and House of Delegates. The partisan makeup of the Senate did not change in this cycle as they do not run for reelection until 2023 — but the lieutenant governor that presides over the chamber and casts tie-breaking votes will be Republican Winsome Sears, the first Black woman elected to statewide office in Virginia.

Youngkin will need to only flip one Democratic vote in the Senate if he can keep Republicans in the House united to advance his legislative agenda. “I look forward to working closely with Todd to make Virginia the best place to live, work, and raise a family,” Youngkin said Sunday. 

The official vote in the House chamber to make Gilbert the speaker will take place on the first day of the session on Jan. 12.

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By vascope