Del. Rip Sullivan speaks at an earlier McLean Chamber of Commerce forum, with Del. Kathleen Murphy behind him. Due to redistricting, Sullivan and Murphy are now living in the same House of Delegates district. (File photo by Brian Trompeter)
He’s been redistricted out of Arlington, but Del. Rip Sullivan said he will always consider the community a second political home.
“I’ll still be there fighting for Arlington,” Sullivan said at the Jan. 5 Arlington County Democratic Committee meeting, the first held since revamped legislative maps were approved by the Virginia Supreme Court.
The redrawn House of Delegates map eliminates the Arlington portion of Sullivan’s district, lumping him instead with fellow Democratic Del. Kathleen Murphy in a McLean-centered district.
(Sullivan and Murphy are among 42 of the 100 current delegates and 20 of the 40 incumbent senators who have found themselves in districts also lived in by other legislators, since the redistricting process did not consider incumbency as a factor in drawing the lines.)
Sullivan, who won a 2014 special election in the 48th House District and has held it ever since, said he was chagrined at losing the Arlington portion of the district, particularly given the outpouring of loss among constituents he has heard from.
“It’s heartbreaking for me,” Sullivan told the Democrats. Noting the expressions of sadness among those at the Jan. 5 meeting, “I felt like I was walking into my own funeral,” he said.
Arlington County Democratic Committee chair Jill Caiazzo, who was wrapping up four years as party chief, said no matter how the districts evolve, Sullivan will always remain an honorary Arlington Democrat.
Technically, Sullivan will continue to represent the Arlington portions of his district until the next House of Delegates election, which depending on a pending challenge in federal court could come either in November 2023 (as scheduled) or a year earlier.
As to which way the federal court system will rule on that matter? “I can’t handicap it for you,” said Sullivan, himself an attorney.
The House of Delegates map approved by the state Supreme Court helps incumbents Alfonso Lopez and Patrick Hope, who maintain much of their existing districts, and creates a new district centered on eastern portions of Arlington that currently is unoccupied but already has picked up expressions of interests from some who would like to fill it.
All the districts are Democratic strongholds.
In his remarks, Sullivan praised departing Gov. Ralph Northam (“the most transformative governor . . . in many, many years”) and took a slap at incoming Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin (“kind of a blank slate” . . . “a wolf in sheep’s clothing”).
The 60-day General Assembly session will be gaveled to order on Jan. 12, followed a few days later by Youngkin’s inauguration.