The Virginia political blogosphere is buzzing with rumors that Senator John Chichester will announce his retirement on Monday. I haven’t been able to independently confirm this, but the information appears credible and seems to be coming from multiple sources (see VCAP and right-wing liberal). As far as blogosphere rumors go, this seems to be one of the more solid ones.
What really seems to lend weight to this rumor is that about two weeks ago the 28th District committee met and considered “disassociating” Chichester from the party. That decision was never made public, and I’ve been unable to track down any results. That secrecy would make it appear that Chichester was offered the option to leave of his own accord, or to be disassociated, and seeing the uphill battle he was likely to face decided this would be a good time to retire. Being embattled to this degree certainly wouldn’t be much fun, especially without some of his longtime allies deciding that it’s time for them to move on as well.
What I have been able to confirm is that with this expected retirement, the field of challengers is going to get crowded very quickly. In addition to John Van Hoy, John Chichester has a relative who is an assistant Commonwealth Attorney in Stafford who would be expected to run, several other Republicans seem to have been waiting for an opportunity like this, and there’s even a couple of fairly credible Democrats who will probably vie for this open seat. My sources tell me to expect no less than seven candidates to take a shot at this seat. Some of these are pretty serious candidates, and some perhaps a bit less so, but it complicates tremendously what was looking like a pretty straightforward primary challenge.
Watch for more Senate retirements being announced soon — there may be about two or three more of these coming within the next couple of weeks, which will make this election cycle extremely dynamic. In the 28th District I hope voters will recognize that one of these candidates was willing to take on a fight against the incumbent in a primary challenge before this started looking like an open seat. That should make John Van Hoy the favorite.
UPDATE: More is at Chichester Must Go.
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