William J. Howell (R-Stafford) had surgery at Mary Washington Hospital in Fredericksburg. (Bob Brown/AP)

William J. Howell, the outgoing speaker of Virginia’s House of Delegates, underwent emergency heart surgery Tuesday night at Mary Washington Hospital in Fredericksburg.

“The surgeons report the procedure went well, but the speaker will be in the intensive care unit for a few days,” spokesman Matthew Moran said. “The family is asking for prayers for a quick and strong recovery, as well as privacy so the speaker can continue to rest.”

Howell, 74, a pragmatic Republican, presided over Virginia’s fractious House of Delegates for 15 sessions before announcing in February that he would not seek reelection.