Englin, barely three months into his fourth term representing parts of Alexandria and Fairfax and Arlington counties, said he will not seek reelection next year after an extramarital affair. He said he may resign before his term expires in January 2014. And one Democrat has already expressed an interest in his seat.
Englin, 37, a strong supporter of gay and women’s rights, health care and economic equality, surprised supporters and colleagues with his announcement Monday night at an Alexandria Democratic Committee meeting.
Alexandria City Council member Rob Krupicka (D) said that he and other Democrats who know the couple were shocked and saddened. “I really wish them the best. No one likes to see people hurt,” he said. “I think that’s a lot of people’s reaction.”
It’s a steep fall for an up-and-coming legislator with a safe seat in one of the most liberal districts in the state, and who had been mentioned as a possible candidate for Congress.
Del. Scott A. Surovell (D-Mount Vernon) called Englin a “rising star” in the Democratic Party. “David has one of the clearest political compasses in our caucus,” he said. “He is a brutally effective politician for someone in the minority.”
In recent weeks, Englin had gained national attention after he was the first delegate to use the term “vaginal probe” on the House floor when debating a contentious bill that requires women to have an ultrasound before an abortion. He quickly became a frequent critic of the bill and appeared repeatedly on Rachel Maddow’s show on MSNBC. His stance earned him a ribald ribbing from Del. David B. Albo (R-Fairfax) on the House floor.
Many in Richmond had heard the rumors of an affair, which led to his separation from his wife, Shayna, a political consultant, and repeated absences in the final days of the annual legislative session and last week’s ongoing special session. He missed key votes on the state budget and transportation funding and pension reform measures, but in a chamber dominated by Republicans, his vote would not have made a difference.
The Air Force veteran and former Eagle Scout told several colleagues about the affair and separation and, on Monday, announced that he wanted to work on his marriage. He issued a statement from him and his wife but did not return a call for comment.
“Political life has affected me in ways I never expected,” Englin said. “In my public role, I have worked hard to serve my constituents and to be an effective, progressive voice in Richmond. But in my personal life, I let down my family and was unfaithful in my marriage.”
House Republicans declined to comment Tuesday, but several Democrats praised Englin for being a hardworking, idealistic candidate who brashly took on a field of better-known, party-backed candidates.