Bob Marshall Takes Aim at Speaker Howell
House Republicans could be in for a contentious meeting Sunday when they decide if Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford) should stay in his job.
Most observers expect Howell, who became speaker in 2002, will win reelection as speaker, even though Republicans have lost a net of 11 House seats since he took over, including four in last week's elections.
But at least one delegate, Robert G. Marshall (R-Prince William), said today he plans to force a debate Sunday on whether Howell should be replaced. Marshall blames Howell for costing the GOP House seats because House leaders pushed for last year's transportation package, which included controversial fees on bad drivers and new taxes in Hampton Roads and Northern Virginia.
"There could be some fireworks," Marshall said of the caucus meeting, which is to be held at Republican Party headquarters in Richmond. "I intend to raise questions about the flawed policy that put us in this circumstance."
In the spring, Howell lobbied for the transportation package by arguing it would help GOP delegates in Northern Virginia win reelection.
"Well it didn't happen. Now what?" Marshall asked. "Do we still go with the same captain? Same ship? Same course? I don't think so. Something has got to change."
Howell could also come under fire tomorrow, when a group of conservatives, known as the Tuesday Morning Group, gather for their monthly meeting in Richmond. Even before last week's election, several members of the group were calling for Howell to be replaced as speaker.
Marshall noted that most GOP House members from Northern Virginia who supported the transportation package saw their margins of victory decrease in this year's election compared to two years ago. But the Northern Virginia Republicans who voted against the transportation plan - Marshall and Del. Jeffrey M. Frederick (R-Prince William) - saw their vote totals increase compared to two years ago.
"They can't blame this on George Bush," Marshall said. "George Bush wasn't out there raising taxes."
Howell supporters are expected to note that only one Republican House incumbent - John J. Welch III of Virginia Beach - lost this year, despite a Democratic tide that cost the Senate Republicans their seats. (Democrats also won three open House seats).
Several Republicans said Marshall, who has strained relationships with many of his colleagues, will fall far short of taking out the speaker.
"Even if Bob has a message, he is not a good messenger," said one Republican caucus insider, who asked not to be identified because he has to work with Marshall.
November 12, 2007; 2:29 PM ET
Categories: Abusive Driver Fees , Election 2007 , General Assembly 2008 , Tim Craig , Transportation
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