By: Michael Martz; Richmond-Times Dispatch - June 13, 2015
The region’s clout is secure in the House, where O’Bannon sits on the Appropriations Committee and serves as a member of the conference committee that negotiates a final budget with the Senate.
House Majority Leader M. Kirkland Cox, R-Colonial Heights, also is a senior member of the Appropriations and Rules committees. Four other delegates from the region sit on the money panel: Riley E. Ingram, R-Hopewell; Christopher K. Peace, R-Hanover; Jimmie Massie, R-Henrico; and Betsy B. Carr, D-Richmond.
Last week’s primary elections might have created an opportunity for Carr, who won her own race against challenger Preston Brown and could become a House budget conferee with the defeat of Del. Johnny S. Joannou, D-Portsmouth. Joannou has served as the only House Democrat on the conference committee.
“Betsy is kind of a worker bee, not a show horse,” O’Bannon said.
House Appropriations Chairman S. Chris Jones, R-Suffolk, said, “She’s very studious and works hard to understand the complex issues.”
Another House Democrat from the region with some influence is Del. Jennifer L. McClellan, D-Richmond, who serves on the House Education, Courts and Commerce committees.
Loupassi, as chairman of the Courts subcommittee that oversees judicial appointments, works closely with McEachin on potential candidates for judgeships in the Richmond area.
A former president of Richmond’s City Council, Loupassi also has not been afraid to take on politically difficult regional issues, most notably his legislation to equalize representation on what is now called the Richmond Metropolitan Transportation Authority. The bill passed last year after three tries.
“I would like to do some things longer term that will reflect positively on all of us,” he said.
That regional role in the assembly has been played most consistently by Watkins, who commands bipartisan respect in the area.
“John is the kind of leader that you are thinking about when you describe great leaders,” said former Richmond City Council President William J. Pantele, a Democrat.
Pantele said the region will miss Stosch and Watkins “not just as a matter of their influence over legislation — it’s the wisdom, it’s the getting the big picture.”
Stosch waves off the worries, having seen many legislative titans come and go, including Sen. Edward E. Willey, a longtime Finance chairman from Richmond who exerted legendary influence for the city and region.
“Perhaps we will be missed,” Stosch said, “but the truth is you won’t notice.”