Sen. Fred Quayle (R-Suffolk) confirmed Wednesday that he will retire from the Virginia Senate at the end of the year — and said in an interview that he is concerned about the rightward shift of Republicans in the chamber as he retires.
Quayle, elected in 1991, has been known as part of a core of more moderate Senate Republicans who led the chamber until 2007 and sometimes joined with Democrats on issues of state spending and taxation.
His retirement comes as a result of redistricting — Democrats in the Senate merged his district into that of Sen. Harry Blevins (R-Chesapeake). Quayle, 75, said he did not want to challenge Blevins, who announced Tuesday that he will run for reelection. That allowed them to draw a new district to accommodate population growth in Loudoun and Prince William.
“This was an unexpected decision,” Quayle said. “The center of the district’s shifted back east into Chesapeake. Had Harry Blevins decided not to run, I’d have run.”
There are three Republicans now running for the open Northern Virginia seat created from Quayle’s Hampton Roads district, including former delegate Dick Black, known as one of the legislature’s most conservative members. Democrats have not put forward a candidate.
Likewise, in Southwest Virginia, Del. Bill Carrico, a tea party favorite, is running to replace Sen. William Wampler (R), another longtime member of the bloc of moderate Senate Republicans. Wampler announced last week that is retiring from the Senate.
“It’s been moving to the right for a number of years now,” Quayle said. “It is somewhat of a concern to me.”
“I don’t think that Virginia should be governed from the far left or the far right,” he continued. “The vast majority of the people fall in the middle.”
Quayle said he was concerned about growing partisanship in the legislature, particularly in the GOP-held House of Delegate.
“I look at some of what happens there, and I think the people there do think purely for the sake of getting reelected.”