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Posted at 2:17 PM ET, 01/ 5/2011

Key ABC subcommittee slot waiting to be filled

By Rosalind S. Helderman
Rosalind S. Helderman

An active campaign is underway already in the Hampton area to replace Del. Tom Gear (R), who resigned from the General Assembly last week. But as important as who will replace Gear in the House of Delegates may be the question of who replaces him as chairman of the Alcoholic Beverage Control and Gaming subcommittee of the General Laws committee.

It's not ordinarily the flashiest of subcommittees. But it is considered a desirable post--the alcohol industry tends to be generous campaign donors to legislators who are involved with their issues. And this year, the post may be one of the more important in the House, as Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) prepares to introduce a bill to sell state-owned liquor stores.

Gear had been a vocal skeptic of McDonnell's initial plans. Will a new chairman be more friendly?

Del. S. Chris Jones (R-Suffolk), who chairs the General Laws committee and will appoint Gear's replacement, said he's carefully examining the issue.

He confirmed that he does plan to replace Gear on the subcommittee to ensure it remains at a full strength even though Gear's seat will be vacant throughout the session.

The subcommittee will be down another member because House Speaker Bill Howell (R) is moving Del. John A. Cosgrove (R-Chesapeake) from the General Laws committee to the Commerce and Labor committee, Jones said. But Jones said he intends to ensure the key subcommittee retains seven members.

Jones' options are somewhat limited. By House practice, chairmen of other committees would likely be out--that means that Del. David Albo (R-Fairfax), who's been involved with a legislative group working with the governor's office on privatization, is unlikely to be appointed since he also chairs the Courts of Justice Committee.

Other General Laws subcommittee chairmen are also unlikely, unless they are willing to give up their current assignments to take on ABC. Gear also served as vice-chair of the General Laws committee and will have to be replaced in that job.

Jones said he will come to a decision by the time the session convenes Jan. 12.

By Rosalind S. Helderman  | January 5, 2011; 2:17 PM ET
Categories:  General Assembly 2011, House of Delegates, Liquor privatization, Robert F. McDonnell, Rosalind Helderman, William Howell  
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