Virginia state Sen. Linda “Toddy” Puller, a Democrat from Northern Virginia, is retiring after 23 years in public office.
Serving in the legislature “has been one of the greatest honors of my life,” said Puller in a statement, promising that she will remain a “vigorous advocate” for her legislation in the 2015 session.
“I look forward to spending more time with my children and two grandsons,” she said.
Puller was first elected to the House of Delegates in 1991 and the Senate in 1999, two years after suffering a stroke that somewhat limited her physical movement. The widow of Lewis B. Puller Jr., a Pulitzer Prize-winning Vietnam veteran who took his own life, Puller has focused on veterans’ issues in her career.
She faced a high-profile challenge from former state party chairman Jeff Frederick in 2011, after her Fairfax-based district was redrawn to include more conservative areas in Prince William and Stafford counties. However, it remains heavily Democratic; Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) won the district in 2013 by a 25-point margin.
Dumfries Mayor Jerry Foreman (R) has already announced his campaign for the seat in 2015.
Mark Sickles, a fellow Democrat who represents part of Fairfax County in the House of Delegates, said in his own statement that Puller “will leave a [gaping] void here in Richmond.”
Her announcement comes a day after Sen. Walter Stosch, a Republican from Henrico, announced his own retirement. Sen. Charles J. Colgan (D-Prince William) is also retiring, as is Sen. John C. Watkins (R-Powhatan).