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Key Virginia senator says Democrats have votes to block Sledd

Rosalind Helderman

Senate Democrats now have the votes to block the confirmation of Robert Sledd as Gov.-elect Bob McDonnell's Secretary of Commerce and Trade, if he does not step down from three corporate boards on which he sits, Sen. Janet Howell said this morning.

Howell (D-Fairfax) chairs the key Privileges and Elections committee, which will consider Sledd's nomination first.

"If he leaves the boards, I expect he will be confirmed," she said. "But if he does not, I know he will not be confirmed.

"The governor's people would like Mr. Sledd to be in the cabinet. And we're quite convinced there is a serious conflict of interest, and there will not be the votes to confirm him," she added.

In an interview this morning, McDonnell said he is confident the respected business leader will be confirmed and that Virginia needs someone with Sledd's background as its job creator in chief. But he declined to say whether he is in discussion with Sledd about stepping down from the three boards to smooth his confirmation.

Meanwhile, a Republican on the same senate committee said he would find it "irresponsible" to reject Sledd's appointment.

"We have a track record on that committee of letting the governor choose his people unless there's a serious and fundamental problem with that person," said Sen. Stephen H. Martin (R-Chesterfield).

By Rosalind Helderman  |  January 14, 2010; 1:18 PM ET
Categories:  General Assembly 2010 , Robert F. McDonnell , Rosalind Helderman , State Senate  
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