RICHMOND — Del. Lashrecse Aird, D-Petersburg, said she is challenging House Democratic Leader Eileen Filler-Corn of Fairfax for House speaker.
Aird’s move sets up a contest within the House Democrats, who won a majority in Tuesday’s election, that spans racial and generational gaps.
Aird is 33 and black. Filler-Corn is 55 and white. House Democrats are to gather Saturday to pick a party leader for when they assume control in January.
Also on Wednesday, Del. Luke Torian, D-Prince William, another member of the Legislative Black Caucus, said his “name is in the hat right now” for speaker.
Aird, chief of staff to the president of Richard Bland College, was first elected to the House in 2015. Her first job out of college was as a General Assembly staffer.
She said in an interview Wednesday morning that she wants to bring values of transparency, collaboration and inclusiveness to Richmond governance.
Winning control of the General Assembly was “only the first step in truly being able to advance the lives of Virginians, and I strongly believe that the mandate that we received from Democrats across the commonwealth today was not just to take the majority but to govern in a way that has been unlike the past,” she said.
“The unique experiences that I offer as a black woman also properly position me to speak with a voice of authority on a number these issues, particularly around equity.”
Aird said Democrats had strong candidates on Tuesday’s ballot but she said a court-ordered redistricting this year helped lead the party to control of the House.
“We won .. because of redistricting, not because of some brand new approach that was taken,” she said. “I think I’m exactly what is necessary to unify us as a caucus.”
Democrats chose Filler-Corn as the party leader in December to replace Del. David Toscano, D-Charlottesville, who decided to leave the leadership post he’d held since 2011. Toscano did not seek re-election this year.
Filler-Corn beat out five other Democrats for the leader job in December, defeating Del. Sam Rasoul, D-Roanoke, in the final round. and she has served as a delegate since 2010.
Either Filler-Corn or Aird would become the first female House speaker in Virginia history.
Torian, 61, the longtime pastor of First Mount Zion Baptist Church in Dumfries, was elected to the House in 2009. In addition to being speaker, he has expressed interest in being chairman of the powerful and budget-writing House Appropriations Committee. Republicans in 2018 made Torian the chairman of the Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on General Government & Capital Outlay.
Earlier in the 2018 session, Torian seconded the nomination of Del. Kirk Cox, R-Colonial Heights, as speaker to succeed Del. Bill Howell, R-Stafford, after Howell retired.
“I enjoy serving beside Eileen and Delegate Aird,” Torian said. “We just look forward to coming in in January and doing a good job for the commonwealth.”
Torian said that if he’s not speaker, he would like to be chairman of Appropriations.
“I would hope whoever is speaker would respect their peers and their years of seniority,” he said.
Times-Dispatch staff writer Michael Martz contributed to this report.