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House Minority Leader Armstrong looks to run statewide in 2013

Anita Kumar

House Minority Leader Ward Armstrong (D) is considering running for statewide office -- perhaps governor or lieutenant governor -- in 2013, Democratic sources tell us.

Armstrong, of Henry County, has been holding townhall meetings the last couple of months throughout Southside and Southwest Virginia and we hear he has spoken to a handful of key Democrats about the possibility of running.

The outspoken and affable Armstrong had long been eyeing his chance to become speaker of the House of Delegates. Democrats had steadily picked up 11 seats in the House since 2003. Six more seats would have allowed them to take the majority and Armstrong to become speaker.

Those plans were quashed when a Republican sweep in November gave the GOP six more seats and solidified Speaker Bill Howell's tenure.

Armstrong, smiling broadly and trying just a little too hard not to laugh, tells us in an interview earlier this week that he is not interested in a statewide run.

"Let's not get ahead of ourselves,'' he said.

Democrats lost all three statewide races in November and, at the moment, have very few obvious choices on who may run for governor in 2013.

Former Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe, who lost his party's nomination for governor last year, is widely expected to make another run in 2013. He has stayed active in state politics and has businesses interests in Virginia.

Armstrong has concentrated his townhall meetings in Southside and Southwest -- even parts that are way out of his Henry County area district, all the way down to the Kentucky and West Virginia borders, including Wytheville, Bluefield, Christiansburg and Abingdon. The meetings are obstensibly to talk about Armstrong's desire to stop Appalachian Power Company's rate increase.

Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) recently signed emergency legislation to provide short-term relief on electric bills for Appalachian customers. But Armstrong did not show up at the bill signing ceremony because he said the bills did not go far enough.

Armstrong said he is holding the townhall meetings to put "maximum pressure" on the governor and his fellow legislators to do something more to rein in Appalachian Power. There are only 10 days left of the regularly scheduled legislative session and most bills have already passed or died, but Armstrong says there's still time for a stronger bill on Appalachian power to pass through a special parlimentary maneuver.

"I want to be the best minority leader I can be,'' he said.

By Anita Kumar  |  March 5, 2010; 7:30 AM ET
Categories:  Anita Kumar , General Assembly 2010 , House of Delegates  
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