Virginia state Sen. Phil Puckett resigning

RICHMOND  (AP) — Democratic Sen. Phil Puckett is resigning from the state Senate and is now being considered for a high-level job with the GOP-controlled Virginia tobacco commission, state officials said Sunday. The resignation gives Republicans a one-seat advantage in the upper chamber in the middle of a bitter battle between the parties over Medicaid expansion.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s office said in a statement Sunday that he was deeply disappointed by the resignation of a fellow Democrat and the uncertainty that creates around expanding Medicaid. A Democratically controlled Senate had given McAuliffe helpful leverage against the Republican-controlled House of Delegates in his push to expand the health care program for the poor.

The fight over Medicaid has stalled passage of a budget and threatens a government shutdown starting July 1.

McAuliffe spokesman Brian Coy said Puckett notified the governor’s office Saturday that he’s stepping down. Senate Democratic Leader Richard Saslaw said Puckett’s resignation will be effective Monday.

Puckett is a conservative from Russell County who renounced support for President Barack Obama during an expensive 2011 re-election campaign. He could not be immediately reached for comment.

His departure means there will be 20 Republicans to 19 Democrats in the upper chamber. Democrats had enjoyed control with a 20-20 split because Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam, who votes when there are ties, is a Democrat.

His precise impact on the Medicaid debate is hard to immediately measure. Puckett’s leaving still leaves a majority of pro-Medicaid expansion legislators in the Senate, as three Republican senators continue to side with the Democrats on the issue. The tea party group Americans for Prosperity’s Virginia chapter issued a statement Sunday calling on the three Republican senators to join their GOP colleagues and pass a state budget without Medicaid expansion.

Republican Delegate Terry Kilgore said the Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization’s executive committee is considering giving Puckett a staff job. Kilgore, who is chairman of the commission, said he’s discussed a deputy director job opening with Puckett but that “no deals have been made.”

“I don’t have final say over his hire, but I think the commission would be crazy not to offer the position to someone of his stature,” Kilgore said in a statement.

The reaction by Democrats of Puckett’s resignation was varied.

The Senate Democratic Caucus issued a two-sentence statement: “We regret Sen. Puckett’s decision to resign, but we are grateful for his many years of service. We wish him and his family all the best.”

But House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mark Sickles accused Puckett and Republicans of engaging in an “unseemly, shady, backroom deal.”



15 Responses to Virginia state Sen. Phil Puckett resigning

  1. Casper

    June 9, 2014 at 9:16 pm

    A stump could replace him.

  2. James W

    June 10, 2014 at 12:56 pm

    Don’t worry. Now it will go to the Republicans and I’m sure we will have a stump.

    • Whole E. Cow

      June 11, 2014 at 7:18 pm

      I will take a stump over a commie any day.

  3. principal

    June 10, 2014 at 1:38 pm

    Mr. Puckett (I don’t use Senator because he doesn’t deserve it) has forgotten and blown off the 400,000 people in Va. that need health care, for a good paying job with the Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization’s committee and a six year appointment for his daughter as a judge, all made possible by the GOP. Its plain to see that his interest lies for himself and not the people who voted and trusted him. Shame on him.

  4. roseanna

    June 10, 2014 at 3:16 pm

    I think that Mr. Puckett has done a fantastic job for the county and state. I look at all of these statements and I will be willing to bet that none of these comments come from people that know anything about politics to begin with. As of now we have to pray for someone that will come in and go forward with making a way for people to get healthcare. I don’t mean Medicaid but pay for their healthcare. That is the problem with this country now there are to many handouts and freebies.Lets get to Bible saying and You eat by the sweat of your brow. In otherwords work and then you get healthcare and whatever.

    • Sharon

      June 10, 2014 at 5:00 pm

      ….and just where are these jobs that provide healthcare Roseanna? There are many people that are working hard and do not have health care because the employer or the employee can not afford it. Maybe you should read and think before you comment.

      • Va Girl

        June 10, 2014 at 5:48 pm

        As someone who works in the insurance business, I can tell you my company (Canadian owned) has stopped renewing ALL worker’s comp and anything health insurance related 2 yrs. ago because they are not about to bother with all the regulations that come from Obamacare. In my humble opinion the gov’t should have simply allowed people/families to buy into Medicare. Would have been a lot easier and not caused the havoc it has on the insurance companies. Millions are losing their insurance because of this alone. Like it or not they ARE a business and if they cannot make a profit they cannot survive.

        • Lola

          June 11, 2014 at 9:49 am

          I’m so old that I remember when people understood that healthcare is a personal responsibility not a right.

          • Sharon

            June 11, 2014 at 1:16 pm

            Maybe that was back when healthcare was somewhat affordable for the employer and the employee. I don’t know what the answer is, but judging hard working people that can not afford healthcare, and there are many, is not right.

          • Va Girl

            June 11, 2014 at 5:20 pm

            Lola…I’m so old too that I remember when most folks didn’t have health insurance at all. Also remember when every other kid didn’t have ADHD (we ran outside to play, so we were too tired to be so fidgety). We ate more healthy foods and weren’t obese (again, we played outside/not in front of TV or play station for hours). We didn’t hate the world….we didn’t worry ourselves sick. So many factors involved in why we as a nation are not as healthy as we once were. Granted healthcare has become WAY to expensive, but there are so many factors as to why this is we could post and discuss it for a year and have more to say about it.

    • Whole E. Cow

      June 11, 2014 at 7:41 pm

      I am very involved in politics in this county. I know for a FACT that Puckett told the people of Tazewell that the then candidate Adam Light said he was going to cut there Social Security pay. Well toughs fine people took that hook line and sinker. He did not mention that S.S. is federal issue. State senator has nothing to do with that, And Mr. Light did speak of reforming social security when running for the nomination for congress against our now congressman Morgan Grittith. O yea he is a fine person, just does not tell the truth a lot. Someone please tell me what he has done for the 38th state senate district.

  5. Elizabeth

    June 11, 2014 at 11:58 am

    Puckett retired effective immediately while he is supposed to be working on the state budget. That is very questionable; barring a medical or family emergency. No, it was for personal gain. His resignation is “paving the way to appoint his daughter to a judgeship and Puckett to the job of deputy director of the state tobacco commission.” Not one of them has to worry about how to pay for medical bills. The companies providing the insurance for the Affordable Care Act are all profit generating companies like, Anthem. I don’t see them going broke. True, this is America and companies have the right to make a profit. However, do the CEOs really need to make multimillion dollar salaries? Seriously? The pharmaceutical companies are just as guilty. The Supreme Court ruled the 2010 Affordable Care Act is constitutional. I work and I pay a hefty premium for health insurance. I do not have my head buried so far in the sand to believe that every American who does not have health insurance does not deserve access to healthcare. Bible thumpers might want to read Mark 12:31 again.

    • Sharon

      June 11, 2014 at 2:22 pm

      Agreed! Well said.

    • Whole E. Cow

      June 20, 2014 at 11:08 pm

      Elizabeth, the Supreme Court said that if it was a TAX it was constitutional. Mr. Obama said it was not a tax when he came up with this farce. We had the greatest healthcare on the planet, now the government will trash it. Just like everything else they touch. Healthcare is not a right. Believe me I understand the issues you speak of, for I have had 5 spinel surgeries and even AHCA wont touch me. So I am screwed too.

  6. Autumn Hudnall

    June 12, 2014 at 12:14 am

    Maybe he got paid to take a hike. It was very good timing since he has other offers to line his pockets. Whatever happened to love of country, working for a better America. Using an office of power to help your fellow man? I can always dream, can’t I?

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