Republican state senator to step down from Virginia Redistricting Commission

Virginia Politics

Sen. Newman speaking during a Senate Committee on Education and Health meeting in 2018. (Photo: 8News)

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — State Sen. Steve Newman (R-Bedford) is resigning from the Virginia Redistricting Commission, leaving the bipartisan panel with a vacancy as it faces a time crunch to submit new political maps to the General Assembly.

Sen. Newman’s decision to step down comes the day after the commission was presented with the first drafts of legislative maps created by two mapdrawers hired by the panel. Newman took part in the meeting, which was held virtually due to a positive COVID-19 case among the commissioners.

In a statement posted on Facebook, Newman recalled his time on the commission fondly but did not reveal the reason behind his resignation, which is effective on Sept. 6.

“I have enjoyed working with my colleagues on the Virginia Redistricting Commission for the past nine months,” Newman wrote. “Approved by the voters last November, the bipartisan Commission is in its first year and I wish them well as they continue to navigate uncharted territory.”

Unlike the commission’s first resignation, Republican citizen member Marvin W. Gilliam Jr. of Bristol, Newman’s vacancy won’t be filled by the commission. Instead, Senate Minority Leader Tommy Norment (R-James City) will pick Newman’s replacement on the 16-person commission.

A spokesman for Sen. Norment told 8News that another senator has not been designated to serve on the panel at this time but “ideally” the plan would be to fill the spot by the commission’s next meeting.

Virginia’s Constitution requires the new 16-member redistricting commission, created through a voter referendum and tasked with redrawing the state’s congressional and legislative districts, to submit its plans to the General Assembly “no later than 45 days” after receiving 2020 Census data. This deadline would require the body to share finalized maps with the state legislature by Oct. 10, just 37 days away.

The commission is scheduled to meet again on Sept. 9 at 1 p.m.

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