Virginia

Virginia GOP House Speaker announces retirement

House Speaker William J. Howell, R-Stafford, watches action on the House floor after HB1900, his bill dealing with a fine for hunting dogs wandering on landowners' property failed to pass by a vote of 48-47 during the floor session of the Virginia House of Delegates floor session inside the Virginia State Capitol in Richmond, Va., Monday, Feb. 6, 2017, (Bob Brown/Richmond Times-Dispatch via AP)

House Speaker William J. Howell, R-Stafford, watches action on the House floor after HB1900, his bill dealing with a fine for hunting dogs wandering on landowners’ property failed to pass by a vote of 48-47 during the floor session of the Virginia House of Delegates floor session inside the Virginia State Capitol in Richmond, Va., Monday, Feb. 6, 2017, (Bob Brown/Richmond Times-Dispatch via AP)

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — One of Virginia’s most powerful politicians is stepping down.

Republican House Speaker William J. Howell said Monday he is retiring will not seek re-election when his term ends in January.

House Majority Leader Kirk Cox is expected to be Howell’s successor, though other Republicans may try to challenge him.

Elected as speaker in 2003, Howell helped grow a near GOP supermajority in the House thanks in part to the favorable legislative boundaries drawn during the last redistricting.

The 73-year-old has promoted conservative, business-friendly policies while helping thwart parts of three Democratic governors’ agendas, including Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s push to expand Medicaid.

The quick-witted speaker has not been ideologically inflexible. He helped former GOP Gov. Bob McDonnell pass tax increases to pay for a transportation-funding overhaul.

 

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