Tough luck for Quayle

Published 8:51 am Friday, May 6, 2011

Western Tidewater’s waning political clout took another hit with last week’s approval of new boundaries for General Assembly districts.

State Sen. Fred Quayle, R-Suffolk, saw his Senate district merged with that of Republican colleague Harry Blevins, putting the two veteran senators in the undesirable position of having to run against each other in a GOP primary if both want to stay in the General Assembly. Quayle says he won’t do so and will simply bow out of elected service gracefully, deferring to his friend Blevins.

It should be noted that Franklin and Southampton County have been without a resident legislator for some six years now, but Quayle was the next best thing. A resident of neighboring Suffolk, he has done his best to protect the interests of rural Western Tidewater in Richmond.

But barring a successful legal challenge of the new district lines or rejection by the federal government of the lines on civil-rights grounds, Franklin and Southampton will now be represented by senators from Portsmouth and Chesapeake. Our area will deliver a tiny fraction of the votes needed by those candidates to retain their seats — and can expect to get a proportionate amount of their attention.

The importance of geographic clout in the legislature came into play again just last month when Franklin and Southampton County, for the first time in recent memory, lost their only resident circuit judge. The vacancy created by Judge Westbrook Parker’s retirement was filled with a Suffolk resident, due in large part to the power wielded by a Suffolk state delegate, Chris Jones, in the legislature’s judicial appointment process.

Until friendlier legislative boundaries are drawn, Franklin and Southampton can continue to expect political snubs from the power brokers in Richmond.