Warner has called at least three state Democratic lawmakers to support Dragas. “Senator Warner has known Helen Dragas for years and considers her a friend,” Warner spokesman Kevin Hall said. “He believes events last June were poorly handled and embarrassed the university. He also agrees with President Sullivan that the university would be best served by moving forward instead of re-litigating last summer’s events.”
Sullivan, while urging campus unity, has taken no public position on the reappointment.
Nor have faculty leaders — in sharp contrast to their activism in the battle to reinstate Sullivan.
“The concern is that we want to be as cooperative as possible with the board,” said law professor George Cohen, the Faculty Senate chairman. “We want to be in a position to work with whoever is there.”
But Cohen said widespread antipathy to Dragas persists on campus: “There are a lot of faculty who are very upset and would not favor her being confirmed.”
Dragas wrote in an e-mail that she is looking forward, not backward, and that she hopes to find common ground with all U-Va. supporters.
“Those who have continued the controversy point to the echoes of their own words as evidence of a two-way confrontation and to their unwillingness to compromise as proof of a deadlock,” Dragas wrote. “Neither exists.”
The bill to confirm Dragas and dozens of other McDonnell appointees, SJ 324, requires a simple majority vote of both houses. Opponents may have a better shot of derailing the bill in the Senate, which is controlled by Republicans but is evenly split between the parties, than in the GOP-dominated House. The bill will be considered Tuesday in the Senate’s Privileges and Elections Committee, a Senate Republican aide said Monday morning. Sen. Mark D. Obenshain (R-Harrisonburg), the committee chairman, did not reply to a request for comment.
Sen. Janet D. Howell (Fairfax), the committee’s ranking Democrat, opposes confirmation, as do a number of other Senate Democrats. She predicted a close vote but said Dragas could benefit from her powerful connections.
“I don’t think that Helen Dragas is indispensable to U-Va.,” said Sen. R. Creigh Deeds (D-Bath), another committee member who is opposed.
Deeds, who represents areas in and around Charlottesville, dismissed the notion that the campus is healing. “I can tell you that there’s no scab on this wound,” Deeds said. “People bring it up on social occasions. They bring it up when they see me on the street. People are just adamant that she has to go.”
Many in Charlottesville believe Dragas will win confirmation.
“Dragas’ supporters will move as quickly as possible to confirm her, and there’s little chance of convincing legislators to vote otherwise,” the Cavalier Daily student newspaper, which opposes Dragas’ confirmation, said this month in an editorial.
This story has been updated.