By Leonard E. Colvin
New Journal and Guide
State Sen. Lionell Spruill is living proof that a politician can enjoy life after losing a political race you may have had a chance to win.
On June 20, Spruill of Chesapeake lost a primary election for the newly drawn 18th State Senate District to fellow Senator Louise Lucas of Portsmouth. Recent State Redistricting put both Lucas and Spruill into the same newly drawn 18th District.
This duo and other powerful Democratic and Republican incumbents were drawn into the same House or Senate Districts. To resolve the issue a primary election was formulated.
Some of those affected by the redistricting chose retirement. But not these two.
Sixty percent of the new 18th District is in Chesapeake, the city Spruill represents under his former 5th District, and Spruill backers assumed long-time supporters would venture to the polls and help him continue his career in the Senate.
Spruill said his campaign pulled about 37 percent of the vote in Portsmouth. He only needed 25 percent, according to his campaign analyst and directors.
In Chesapeake, however, several key precincts, where previously he secured 1,350 plus votes, only delivered 440.
That shortfall doomed his chances.
After a brief period of reflection, Spruill told the GUIDE he is back, reaching out to media and political allies, talking strategy, advising, and declaring his willingness to help his party do well in the November 7 General Election.
Until that election, he is still Senator Lionell Spruill, Sr. He said he will continue to walk the halls of power in Richmond to carry on his duties as a lawmaker.
For the first time in years, he said, he is taking a vacation. He and his family members are off to Europe – Rome, Italy to see the cultural and historic sites.
Politically, Spruill said he won’t be sitting idle and is not hurting monetarily.
He has been offered a role with Senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner’s network.
He said he could accept a seat on a powerful state Board or Commission at the request of Republican Governor Glenn Youngkin,
Spruill said State Democrats have a good chance of retaining the Senate.
The closest race in the Senate may involve Delegate Clinton Jenkins, who is working to win the 17th Senate District against incumbent Emily Brewer.
State Senator Mamie Locke, the current chair of the Senate Caucus, and running unopposed in Senate District 23, said Jenkins has a good chance to jump from his seat in the House to the Senate.
She said Democrats will provide funding. U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, Congressman Bobby Scott, and State Senator Lucas, all of whom won Portsmouth, Suffolk and other Democratic friendly parts of the 17th before redistricting, will campaign with him to bolster their support.
Locke said the 17th District is among seven races that will determine which party will control the Senate. She said Democrats have a chance of adding at least one or more seats to a 22-19 majority in that chamber.
Locke said that if Democrats retain their majority, she will run to become the first African-American female majority leader in the Senate.
Senator Lucas is the current President Pro Tempore of the Senate, and she hopes to retain that seat and become the Senate Finance Committee Chair.