RICHMOND — Democrats in Virginia’s House of Delegates elected Eileen Filler-Corn of Fairfax County to be their leader Saturday, replacing Del. David Toscano of Charlottesville.
If Democrats are able to take back control of the House in next year’s elections, Filler-Corn could be in position to be the first woman to serve as speaker in the body’s 400-year history.
Toscano, who had served as minority leader since 2011, announced last month that he intended to step down from the leadership position. He said he plans to seek reelection to the House next year.
“It is an incredible honor to serve as Leader of the House Democratic Caucus, and I want to thank my colleagues for their faith in me, as well as Delegate Toscano for his years of service as Leader,” Filler-Corn said in a statement released by the caucus.
Democrats met in Richmond on Saturday and conducted the vote in secret. As many as five delegates had announced plans to see the leadership post. The caucus did not release details of the vote, except to say that Filler-Corn had been elected by acclamation, “in a show of unity.”
Filler-Corn, 54, has represented the 41st House District since 2010. She is a lawyer and director of government relations at the firm of Albers & Co. She served as an adviser to former governors Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine.
Her election as caucus leader caps a period of strong performance by women in Virginia’s Democratic Party. Last year, Democrats flipped 15 seats in the 100-member House, and 11 of those winning candidates were women. The surge brought Democrats within two votes of the Republican majority, at 51-49.
It also brought the total number of women in the General Assembly to an all-time high of 38 out of 140 seats in the House and Senate combined.
Should Democrats continue their surge in next year’s elections, when every seat will again be on the ballot, it would leave Filler-Corn in strong position to become the body’s first female speaker.
Toscano, the outgoing minority leader, said via email that Filler-Corn “has shown tremendous leadership in her roles within the Caucus, including as Co-Chair of the Safe Virginia Initiative. I know she will work tirelessly for the Caucus, and Commonwealth, as House Democratic Leader.”