Virginia Democrats Take Case for Power Sharing to Court

Dems lost majority in last month's election

By Julie Carey
|  Monday, Dec 5, 2011  |  Updated 11:15 PM EDT
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Va. Dems Take Case for Power Sharing to Court

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Democrats are taking their case for power sharing in the Virginia Senate to court.

Caucus Chairman Donald McEachin filed suit in Richmond Circuit Court in an attempt to stop Lieutenant Gov. Bill Bolling from voting as a tie-breaker when the Senate organizes for the next legislative session.

After last month's election, Democrats lost their majority in that chamber and now each party has 20 senators. Republican Bolling's vote would enable the GOP to establish a majority on all the committees.

In his suit McEachin reasons, "The voters elected 20 Democrats and 20 Republicans to the Senate...in spite of that, the Republicans choose to ignore these results and, instead, claim absolute power and authority."

The lawsuit asks for a judgment that the lieutenant governor does not have the right to cast a vote breaking the expected tie about how the Senate organizes.

Republican party leaders call the suit "sour grapes." And the lieutenant governor's communications director says they believe Bolling has the authority to cast votes on organizational matters.

"Unfortunately the Democrats are trying to achieve in court what they could not achieve at the ballot box," said spokesman Ibbie Hedrick.

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