No 2022 delegate elections, judges rule
Politico sought new elections following Census redrawing
Virginia politico Paul Goldman’s quest to force new elections of state delegates this fall ended in defeat Monday, after a panel of three federal judges ruled that he lacked standing as a voter and a prospective candidate to bring the legal challenge, which focused on the state’s newly redrawn political districts based on the 2020 U.S. Census.
In a lawsuit filed last year against state voting officials Robert Brink, John O’Bannon, Jamilah D. LeCruise and Susan Beals, Goldman argued that voters were being disenfranchised while represented by delegates elected in the state’s former districts. Virginia’s new districts for congressional representatives and state House and Senate members weren’t settled until December 2021, after a bipartisan commission’s gridlock forced the Virginia Supreme Court to finish the job.
Meanwhile, in federal court, U.S. District Judge David J. Novak handled former state Democratic Party chairman Goldman’s lawsuit, which was filed in June 2021, months before Republicans regained control of the House of Delegates. Novak dismissed former Gov. Ralph Northam and the Virginia State Board of Elections from the suit and later scolded former state Attorney General Mark Herring for ignoring a request for an official opinion on the issue for months, prolonging the matter. In January, newly elected Republican Attorney General Jason Miyares began defending the state against the lawsuit.
In Monday’s opinion, Novak — also representing U.S. Circuit Judge Stephanie Thacker and Senior U.S. District Judge Raymond Jackson — wrote, “This case has languished for far too long, largely due to defendants’ efforts to engage in piecemeal litigation and plaintiff’s unorthodox (and occasionally improper) filings,” ruling unanimously as a three-judge panel to adjudicate the matter of Goldman’s standing.
Goldman, who lives in the state’s new District 78 in Richmond, “failed to demonstrate a cognizable injury as a voter,” and in fact “benefited from overrepresentation of his vote during the 2021 House election,” in which he voted in former District 68. Novak also said that Goldman’s argument as a prospective candidate for the House of Delegates in his new district didn’t hold up because he had not declared his candidacy.
In a statement Monday, Miyares said, “The 2021 Virginia elections were legal and constitutional. Record numbers of Virginians went to the polls to vote and had their voices heard. I’m glad that the court agreed with my office, that there is no more uncertainty for voters and legislators, and that we were able to protect the sanctity of our 2021 elections.”
The next elections for state delegates and senators will take place in 2023.