Dick Saslaw

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Dick Saslaw
Sen. Saslaw 2018.jpg
Minority Leader of the Virginia Senate
Assumed office
June 12, 2014
Preceded byTommy Norment
Member of the Virginia Senate
from the 35th district
Assumed office
January 9, 1980
Preceded byOmer L. Hirst
Member of the Virginia House of Delegates
from the 19th district
In office
January 14, 1976 – January 9, 1980
Preceded byJames Tate
Succeeded byJim Dillard
Personal details
Richard Lawrence Saslaw

(1940-02-05) February 5, 1940 (age 79)
Washington, D.C., U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
EducationUniversity of Maryland, College Park (BA)
WebsiteOfficial website
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/service United States Army
Years of service1958–1960

Richard Lawrence Saslaw (born February 5, 1940) is an American politician. A Democrat, he served in the Virginia House of Delegates from 1976–80, then was elected to the Senate of Virginia. He currently represents the 35th district, made up of the city of Falls Church and portions of Fairfax County and the city of Alexandria.[1]

Saslaw has been the leader of the Virginia Senate Democrats since 1998, serving as Majority Leader from 2008–2012, 2014 – June 12, 2014, and Minority Leader 1998–2008, 2012–2014.[1] He ran for Congress in Virginia's 8th congressional district in 1984. He was defeated by then-Congressman Stanford Parris.

Personal life[edit]

Saslaw was born in Washington, D.C. and raised in the suburbs. He served in the United States Army (1958–60), before receiving a B.S. degree in economics from the University of Maryland. After that, he went into the gasoline service station business.[1][2]

Saslaw and his wife Eleanor, a retired guidance director and member of the Virginia State Board of Education, settled in northern Virginia in 1968. Their daughter, Jennifer, received her undergraduate degree from the University of Virginia.[2] and her law degree from Stanford Law School. They live in Springfield, Virginia.

Minority leader[edit]

In the 2007 Virginia legislative elections, Democrats gained a majority by picking up four seats in the Virginia State Senate. Senator Saslaw was named Majority Leader when the Democrats assumed control of the chamber in 2008.

He also serves as chair of the Senate's Labor and Commerce Committee.

Education has been one of his priorities. In 2006, the Association of School Boards named him Virginia Legislator of the Year.

Saslaw has been described as a reliable ally of Dominion Energy, Virginia's largest electrical utility which is also notable for its influence on Virginia politics.[3][4] In 2018, the Associated Press reported that Dominion had been Saslaw's largest source of campaign funds, contributing approximately $350,000 over a 15-year period.[3] Saslaw helped push Dominion-backed legislation that would allow the firm to charge customers rates that regulators considered to be excessive.[3] When Virginia Democratic Party criticized a Republican state senator for being too cozy with Dominion Energy, Dominion sent an email to Saslaw to complain. Saslaw responded by apologizing to Dominion and criticized his own party for failing to do its "homework" on "how generous Dominion has been to me" and the party.[3]

Political positions[edit]

Medicaid Expansion in Virginia[edit]

Senator Saslaw is credited with saving the Democratic push for Medicaid expansion in Virginia by thwarting an attempted procedural move by Republican Senator Tommy Norment to kill the bill in committee. Norment attempted to have the bill to expand Medicaid in Virginia killed in committee a second time, which would make the bill ineligible for presentation to the full senate. Saslaw caught the move and thwarted it, thus allowing the bill to proceed and eventually become law in Virginia in 2018. Medicaid expansion brought health insurance coverage to over 400,000 Virginians.[5][6]

Gun Violence Prevention[edit]

In February 2011, Saslaw was one of eight senators on the Senate Courts of Justice Committee who "passed by indefinitely" House Bill 1573, defeating the bill by an 8 to 4 margin. The bill, also known as Castle Doctrine, would have allowed "a lawful occupant use of physical force, including deadly force, against an intruder in his dwelling who has committed an overt act against him, without civil liability."[7] Senator Saslaw is rated F by the NRA and has been a strong supporter of stricter gun regulations. In the 2019 legislative session, he proposed legislation to raise the age for which a person is allowed to buy a gun in Virginia from 18 to 21, and he proposed a ban on so called "bump stocks." Republicans did not allow either of those bills to pass out of committee. [8] In 2019, Senator Saslaw was endorsed for re-election by the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence.[9]

Reproductive Rights[edit]

Senator Saslaw supports women's reproductive freedom and has voted against every Republican attempt to limit access to safe and legal abortions in Virginia.[10] He has been endorsed by NARAL Virginia and by Planned Parenthood of the Greater Metropolitan Washington Area.[11]

Election history[edit]

Year Subject Party Votes % Opponent Party Votes % Opponent Party Votes %
8th Congressional District of Virginia
1984 Richard L. Saslaw Democratic 97,250 43.3 Stanford Parris Republican 125,015 55.7
35th Virginia Senate District
1999 Richard L. Saslaw Democratic 19,257 57.6 Robert H. Neitz Republican 13,554 40.5
2003 Richard L. Saslaw Democratic 17,735 82.48 Charles W. Levy Independent 3,537 16.45
2007 Richard L. Saslaw Democratic 16,856 77.94 Mario T. Palmiotto Independent Green 4,532 20.95
2011 Richard L. Saslaw Democratic 15,905 61.7 Robert C. Sarvis Republican 9,272 35.9
2015 Richard L. Saslaw Democratic 18,754 74.4 Terrence W. Modglin Independent Green 6,055 24.0


  1. ^ a b c Senate of Virginia bio
  2. ^ a b "Meet Senator Saslaw". Saslaw!. Archived from the original on May 19, 2008. Retrieved 2009-01-27.
  3. ^ a b c d Suderman, Alan (2018-01-29). "Facing new scrutiny, powerful utility turns to old friends". AP NEWS. Retrieved 2019-02-02.
  4. ^ Marans, Daniel (2018-02-12). "What A Battle Over Virginia's Most Powerful Monopoly Can Teach Democrats Everywhere". Huffington Post. Retrieved 2019-02-02.
  5. ^ https://www.pressreader.com/
  6. ^ Angela Woolsey. The ins and outs of Virginia’s new Medicaid expansion. Fairfax County Times, 15 Jun 2018
  7. ^ National Rifle Association, February 15, 2011
  8. ^ Dave Ress. Virginia gun control bills die again in committees. The Virginian-Pilot, 18 Jan 2019
  9. ^ https://www.csgv.org/virginia-endorsement/
  10. ^ Saslaw's Voting Records on Issues at votesmart.org
  11. ^ Dick Saslaw's Ratings and Endorsements at votesmart.org

External links[edit]

Senate of Virginia
Preceded by
Tommy Norment
Minority Leader of the Virginia Senate