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Virginia Senate

Coordinates: 37°32′20.3″N 77°26′1.7″W / 37.538972°N 77.433806°W / 37.538972; -77.433806
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37°32′20.3″N 77°26′1.7″W / 37.538972°N 77.433806°W / 37.538972; -77.433806

Senate of Virginia
163rd Virginia General Assembly
Coat of arms or logo
Coat of Arms of the Virginia Senate
Seal of the Virginia Senate
Term limits
New session started
January 10, 2024
Winsome Sears (R)
since January 15, 2022
Louise Lucas (D)
since January 8, 2020
Majority Leader
Scott Surovell (D)
since January 10, 2024
Minority Leader
Ryan McDougle (R)
since January 10, 2024
Political groups
  •   Democratic (21)


Length of term
4 years
AuthorityArticle IV, Virginia Constitution
Salary$18,000/year + per diem
Last election
November 7, 2023
(40 seats)
Next election
November 2, 2027
(40 seats)
Meeting place
State Senate Chamber
Virginia State Capitol
Richmond, Virginia
Virginia General Assembly

The Senate of Virginia is the upper house of the Virginia General Assembly. The Senate is composed of 40 senators representing an equal number of single-member constituent districts. The Senate is presided over by the lieutenant governor of Virginia. Prior to the American War of Independence, the upper house of the General Assembly was represented by the Virginia Governor's Council, consisting of up to 12 executive counselors appointed by the colonial royal governor as advisers and jurists.

The lieutenant governor presides daily over the Virginia Senate. In the lieutenant governor's absence, the president pro tempore presides, usually a powerful member of the majority party. The Senate is equal with the House of Delegates, the lower chamber of the legislature, except that taxation bills must originate in the House, similar to the federal U.S. Congress. The 40 senatorial districts in Virginia elect their representatives every four years on the Tuesday following the first Monday in November. The last election took place in November 2023. There are no term limits for senators. The Senate also employs 36 pages (ages 13–14) to help with daily tasks during each general session in a full-time residential program of high regard.

Partisan makeup of the Virginia State Senate, 1900–2019



The Senate of Virginia was created by the 1776 Constitution of Virginia, and originally consisted of twenty-four members.[1] Along with the House of Delegates, the Senate comprised a new bicameral legislature designed to replace the colonial Virginia House of Burgesses, which formally dissolved on May 6, 1776.[2] The Senate replaced the legislative functions of the appointed Virginia Council of State.

Pursuant to the original Virginia Constitution, the Senate was only permitted to file amendments, while the House of Delegates had the power to propose bills. Accordingly, the Senate had far less power than the House, until the revised Virginia constitution of 1851 allowed the Senate to propose new laws.[3]

In the 2007 elections, the Democratic Party reclaimed the majority in the Senate for the first time since 1995, when the Republican Party gained a 20–20 split. The Republicans took control of the Senate for the first time in history after a January 1998 special election. The 2011 elections resulted in a 20–20 split between the parties, but as the tie breaker was Republican lieutenant governor Bill Bolling, the Republicans effectively regained control.[4]

After the 2013 elections, Democratic state senator Ralph Northam became the lieutenant governor, but the Democrats did not regain control of the chamber until January 28, 2014, following a series of special elections including that of Northam's vacated 6th district seat. The Democratic majority would prove short-lived, however, as Senator Phil Puckett (D-38th) resigned, effective June 8, handing the GOP a majority of 20 to 19. The Republicans solidified their majority following a special election win on August 19, 2014, which increased their total number of seats to 21.[5]

The Democratic Party regained control of Senate after the 2019 election and new members were sworn into office on January 8, 2020.[6][7] As the legislative session opened, Louise Lucas was elected as the first female and African American President Pro Tempore.[8][9]

Salary and qualifications


The annual salary for senators is $18,000 per year.[10] To qualify for office, senators must be at least 21 years of age at the time of the election, residents of the district they represent, and qualified to vote for General Assembly legislators. The regular session of the General Assembly is 60 days long during even numbered years and 30 days long during odd numbered years, unless extended by a two-thirds vote of both houses.[11]



Historical composition

Affiliation Party
(Shading indicates majority caucus)
Democratic Republican Vacant
1900–1904 38 2 40 0
1904–1916 35 5 40 0
1916–1920 36 4 40 0
1920–1924 34 6 40 0
1924–1928 39 1 40 0
1928–1944 38 2 40 0
1944–1948 37 3 40 0
1948–1952 38 2 40 0
1952–1960 37 3 40 0
1960–1964 38 2 40 0
1964–1968 37 3 40 0
1968–1970 34 6 40 0
1970–1974 33 7 40 0
1974–1976 34 6 40 0
1976–1978 35 5 40 0
1978–1980 34 6 40 0
1980–1984 31 9 40 0
1984–1988 32 8 40 0
1988–1992 30 10 40 0
1992–1996 22 18 40 0
1996–2000 20 20 40 0
2000–2004 19 21 40 0
2004–2008 17 23 40 0
2008–2012 22 18 40 0
2012–2016 20 20 40 0
2016–2020 19 21 40 0
2020–2024 22 18 40 0
2024–2028 21 19 40 0

Current session

19 21
Republican Democratic
Affiliation Party
(Shading indicates majority caucus)
Democratic AC[12][a] Republican Vacant
2016-2020 legislative session 19 21 40 0
End 20 39 1
2020–2024 legislative session 21 1 18 40 0
End 22 16 39 1
Start of 2024–2028 legislative session 21 0 19 40 0
Latest voting share 52.5% 0% 47.5%


Lieutenant Governor Winsome Sears
President pro Tempore Louise Lucas
Majority Leader Scott Surovell
Minority Leader Ryan McDougle

Committee chairs and ranking members


The Senate of Virginia has 10 Standing Committees and a Committee on Rules.[13]

Committee Chair Ranking Minority Member
Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources Dave Marsden
Commerce and Labor Creigh Deeds
Courts of Justice Scott Surovell
Education and Health Ghazala Hashmi
Finance and Appropriations Louise Lucas
General Laws and Technology Adam Ebbin
Local Government Jeremy McPike
Privileges and Elections Aaron Rouse
Rehabilitation and Social Services Barbara Favola
Rules Mamie Locke
Transportation Jennifer Boysko


District Name Party Areas represented First election
Counties Cities
1 Timmy French Republican Clarke, Frederick, Shenandoah, Warren Winchester 2023
2 Mark Obenshain Republican Augusta (part), Bath, Highland, Page, Rockingham Harrisonburg 2003
3 Chris Head Republican Alleghany, Augusta (part), Bedford (part), Botetourt, Craig, Roanoke (part), Rockbridge Buena Vista, Covington, Lexington, Staunton, Waynesboro 2023
4 Dave Suetterlein Republican Montgomery (part), Roanoke (part) Roanoke, Salem 2015
5 Travis Hackworth Republican Bland, Giles, Montgomery (part), Pulaski, Smyth, Tazewell, Wythe (part) Radford 2021
6 Todd Pillion Republican Buchanan, Dickenson, Lee, Russell, Scott, Washington, Wise Bristol, Norton 2019
7 Bill Stanley Republican Carroll, Floyd, Franklin, Grayson, Henry, Patrick, Wythe (part) Martinsville, Galax 2011
8 Mark Peake Republican Bedford (part), Campbell Lynchburg 2017
9 Tammy Brankley Mulchi Republican Charlotte, Halifax, Lunenburg, Mecklenburg, Nottoway, Pittsylvania, Prince Edward (part) Danville 2024
10 John McGuire Republican Amelia, Appomattox, Buckingham, Cumberland, Fluvanna, Goochland, Hanover (part), Henrico (part), Louisa (part), Powhatan, Prince Edward (part) 2023
11 Creigh Deeds Democratic Albemarle, Amherst, Louisa (part), Nelson Charlottesville 2001
12 Glen Sturtevant Republican Chesterfield (part) Colonial Heights 2015, 2023
13 Lashrecse Aird Democratic Charles City, Dinwiddie (part), Henrico (part), Prince George, Surry, Sussex Hopewell, Petersburg 2023
14 Lamont Bagby Democratic Henrico (part) Richmond (part) 2023
15 Ghazala Hashmi Democratic Chesterfield (part) Richmond (part) 2019
16 Schuyler VanValkenburg Democratic Henrico (part) 2023
17 Emily Jordan Republican Brunswick, Dinwiddie (part), Greensville, Isle of Wight, Southampton Chesapeake (part), Emporia, Franklin, Portsmouth (part), Suffolk 2023
18 Louise Lucas Democratic Chesapeake (part), Portsmouth (part) 1991
19 Christie New Craig Republican Chesapeake (part), Virginia Beach (part) 2023
20 Bill DeSteph Republican Accomack, Northampton Norfolk (part), Virginia Beach (part) 2015
21 Angelia Williams Graves Democratic Norfolk (part) 2023
22 Aaron Rouse Democratic Virginia Beach (part) 2023
23 Mamie Locke Democratic Hampton, Newport News (part) 2003
24 Danny Diggs Republican James City (part), York Newport News (part), Poquoson, Williamsburg 2023
25 Richard Stuart Republican Caroline, Essex, King & Queen (part), King George, King William, Lancaster, Middlesex, Northumberland, Richmond, Spotsylvania (part), Westmoreland 2007
26 Ryan McDougle Republican Gloucester, Hanover (part), James City (part), King & Queen (part), Mathews, New Kent 2006
27 Tara Durant Republican Spotsylvania (part), Stafford (part) Fredericksburg 2023
28 Bryce Reeves Republican Culpeper, Fauquier (part), Greene, Madison, Orange, Rappahannock, Spotsylvania (part) 2011
29 Jeremy McPike Democratic Prince William (part), Stafford (part) 2015
30 Danica Roem Democratic Prince William (part) Manassas, Manassas Park 2023
31 Russet Perry Democratic Fauquier (part), Loudoun (part) 2023
32 Suhas Subramanyam Democratic Loudoun (part) 2023
33 Jennifer Carroll Foy Democratic Fairfax (part), Prince William (part) 2023
34 Scott Surovell Democratic Fairfax (part) 2015
35 Dave Marsden Democratic Fairfax (part) 2010
36 Stella Pekarsky Democratic Fairfax (part) 2023
37 Saddam Azlan Salim Democratic Fairfax (part) Fairfax, Falls Church 2023
38 Jennifer Boysko Democratic Fairfax (part) 2019
39 Adam Ebbin Democratic Arlington (part), Fairfax (part) Alexandria 2011
40 Barbara Favola Democratic Arlington (part) 2011

District map

Virginia Senate District Map (2023)

Coat of Arms

Coat of arms of the Senate of Virginia
Issuant from a Wreath of Dogwood Flowers proper a Female Figure coupled below the shoulders also proper crined Or vested Gules garnished Gold on her head an Eastern Crown of the last
Argent a Cross Gules between four Escuncheons each ensigned with a Royal Crown those in the first and fourth quarters emblazoned with the Arms of France (modern) quartering those of England the Escuncheon in the second quarter with the Arms of Scotland and that in the third quarter with the Arms of Ireland on the Cross an Ivory Gavel palewise proper
Dexter a Cardinal Bird wings addorsed proper and sinister a Dragon wings addorsed Gules
"Floreat Senatus Virginiae"
(Latin for "May the Senate of Virginia flourish"

The Senate of Virginia has its own coat of arms designed and granted by the College of Arms in England.[14][15] The coat of arms also makes up the official seal of the Virginia Senate. It bears no resemblance to the Seal of the Commonwealth of Virginia, which is the seal of the state as a whole, however the shield does resemble the Coat of Arms of the Commons Wealth of Virginia.

The coat of arms of the London Company.

The coat of arms adopted January 22, 1981, was designed by the College of Arms and based on the coat of arms used by the London Company, the royally chartered English entrepreneurs who funded the European settlement of Virginia. This is not to be confused with the Seal of the London Company, for other than both devices displaying a quartered shield, there is little resemblance between them.

The Senate's arms have a shield in the center which is divided into four sections by a red cross. In each quarter are smaller shields representing the arms of four countries (England, France, Scotland, and Ireland) that contributed settlers to Virginia's early waves of European immigration.[14][15]

The four coats of arms, a small crest of a crowned female head with unbound hair representing Queen Elizabeth (the Virgin Queen who named Virginia),[16] and the dragon (part of the Elizabethan royal seal of England) represent Virginia's European heritage.[14][15]

An ivory gavel emblazoned on the vertical arm of the red cross represents the Senate as a law making body. The cardinal and dogwood depicted are Virginia's official state bird and tree. The ribbon contains the Latin motto of the Senate, Floreat Senatus Virginiae, which means "May the Senate of Virginia flourish."[14][15]

Past composition of the Senate


See also



  1. ^ Amanda Chase is an enrolled Republican, and was elected in 2019 on the Republican line. On November 22, 2019, she announced that she would not caucus with the Republicans in the upcoming Senate session, although she still considers herself a Republican. (Chase also ran for the Republican nomination in the 2021 Virginia gubernatorial election.)


  1. ^ "Constitution of Virginia, 1776" (PDF). Retrieved January 30, 2014.
  2. ^ "The General Assembly Adjourns (1776)". Encyclopedia of Virginia. Virginia Foundation for the Humanities. Retrieved January 31, 2014.
  3. ^ "House of Burgesses". Encyclopedia of Virginia. Virginia Foundation for the Humanities. Retrieved January 31, 2014.
  4. ^ Walker, Julian (November 9, 2011). "Virginia Republicans claim victory in state Senate". The Virginian-Pilot. Retrieved 2013-01-25.
  5. ^ Vozella, Laura (2014-06-09). "GOP controls Va. Senate, will force budget deal". The Washington Post.
  6. ^ "Newly-Empowered Virginia Democrats Promise Action".
  7. ^ "Article - Chron".
  8. ^ "Opinion | Social issues will loom large in Virginia Senate - The Washington Post". The Washington Post.
  9. ^ "History-making new Va. House speaker cites passing of 'new torch' with focus on diversity, empowerment".
  10. ^ "Virginia State Legislature" (PDF). VAKids.org. Retrieved 2008-09-12.
  11. ^ "Constitution of Virginia; Article IV; Section 6". Virginia Legislative Information Services. Retrieved 2 March 2016.
  12. ^ "Sen. Amanda Chase leaves caucus after Norment elected as Senate minority leader". WTVR.com. 2019-11-22. Retrieved 2020-01-06.
  13. ^ "Legislative Committees". Legislative Information System. Virginia General Assembly. Retrieved 2016-01-14.
  14. ^ a b c d Official Virginia State Senate "Capitol Classroom" site Archived 2012-09-26 at the Wayback Machine. Accessed November 7, 2007.
  15. ^ a b c d Answers.Com: Virginia State Senate Seal; accessed November 7, 2007.
  16. ^ The Queen named Virginia in 1584 by modifying a Native American regional "king" named "Wingina". Stewart, George (1945). Names on the Land: A Historical Account of Place-Naming in the United States. New York: Random House. p. 22.