It has been widely reported that Del. Bill Janis (R-56), the majority whip, may be resigning as early as next week from his seat in order to pursue an independent bid for Henrico Commonwealth’s Attorney.
Should Janis do so, it will cause two elections – one for his seat and the other among the GOP caucus for the next whip.
A source in GOP leadership tells me that Del. Kathy Byron (R-22) of Lynchburg, a member since 1998, and Del. John Cosgrove (R-78) of Chesapeake and member since 2002, have expressed interest in the position. However, should Janis resign, an election for whip would not take place until after the General Election. This will permit members to focus on their own elections and assisting others get elected. It will also provide ample time for Byron and Cosgrove to make their case to the fellow members of their caucus.
The responsibility of the whip is to understand where the caucus is heading, vote wise, on legislation and bring potential issues up to the Caucus Chairman (Del. Tim Hugo – Fairfax), Majority Leader (Del. Kirk Cox – Colonial Heights), and Speaker of the House (Del. Bill Howell – Stafford). Generally, a whip needs to understand the various political and cultural issues throughout the state and remove their own views from coloring their responsibility to the caucus and leadership.
In short, the whip has to work well with others from all across the state.
As far as Janis’ potential successor, early indication is that Steve Thomas, chairman of the Spotsylvania Republican Committee is interested and has received commitments of $25,000 from donors. However, other names could emerge, including two current candidates for the 22nd Senate District: Tom Garrett and Bryan Rhode.
UPDATE: Speaker Bill Howell released the following statement:
Speaker Howell Statement on
Delegate Bill Janis’ Decision Not to
Stand for Re-Election to the
Virginia House of Delegates
RICHMOND, VA – Virginia House of Delegates Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford) today commented on the announcement of Delegate William R. “Bill” Janis (R-Henrico) that he will run for Henrico Commonwealth’s Attorney this fall and will not seek a sixth term in the Virginia House of Delegates:
“Today Delegate Bill Janis announced his intention to run for Henrico Commonwealth’s Attorney this coming fall. Bill was first elected to serve the 56th House District in 2001 and has been a strong, conservative leader in our Caucus ever since. The citizens of Henrico, Louisa and Goochland counties have been fortunate to have such a bright, energetic and articulate advocate over the last decade and he will be missed here in Richmond.”
“Bill has served on the House Committee on Privileges and Elections, the House Committee on Commerce and Labor, the House Courts of Justice Committee and as Vice Chair of the House Rules Committee. Recognizing his intellect and leadership, the House Republican Caucus elected Delegate Janis Majority Whip in December of 2010. In addition to his committee assignments and leadership duties, Bill worked hard over the last decade to strengthen law enforcement legislation and facilitate the General Assembly’s judicial appointments.”
“Delegate Janis has been a loyal, hard working, dedicated colleague. His intellect and drive, which were tremendous assets in the House of Delegates, will serve him well in his future endeavors. I thank Bill for his leadership and his service, and wish him and his family all the best.”