For the first time in Virginia’s 400-year legislative history, a woman will become speaker of the House.
Del. Eileen Filler-Corn, the current Democratic House leader, won a competitive race for the top spot after Democrats flipped both the House and Senate in Tuesday’s election.
Filler-Corn, who will make history as the first Jewish speaker of the House, beat out three other candidates for the position. She is the first woman to serve in her current role as minority leader.
“On Tuesday, Virginians spoke and we have listened. It is time to govern and usher in a new era in Virginia. As Speaker-designee of the House of Delegates, I will be ready to work with all of my colleagues toward a better Commonwealth,” Filler-Corn said in a statement.
“The firsts are not lost on me - the first woman and the first Jewish person elected Speaker-designee in our 400 year legislative history - but it doesn’t define me. When I joined this body less than 10 years ago, I was the only mom serving with school-aged kids. We have come so far since then,” Filler-Corn said, touting the legislative body’s cultural, gender and geographic diversity.
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam said in a statement: “Virginia made history again today.” He congratulated Filler-Corn and Del. Charniele Herring, who was elected the first woman and African American majority leader.
On election night this week, Filler-Corn told CNN: “I think it’s about time that we had people elected to positions that actually look and reflected like the Commonwealth of Virginia and yes, that includes women at the helm.”
Democrats’ wins on Tuesday gave the party full control of the state’s government for the first time in more than two decades. The election outcome puts Northam and Democrats in the Legislature in position to pursue a progressive agenda – including gun control measures, which majority Republicans had blocked, and a higher minimum wage.
The victories completed a Democratic comeback in the state Legislature that began in 2017, when Democrats made major gains in the Legislature, largely through suburban districts, and Northam won handily in an early sign of backlash over Donald Trump’s presidency.