Former Virginia Democratic state Sen. Phillip Puckett, who formally resigned his Senate seat Monday, has withdrawn his name from consideration for a job as the deputy director of the state tobacco commission, The Washington Post’s Laura Vozzella reports.
Puckett’s abrupt change of heart adds another wrinkle into the story of Puckett’s resignation, which shocked Virginia’s political world Sunday night.
His resignation paved the way for him to get the tobacco commission job — and for his daughter to be confirmed for a state judgeship — while Democrats would lose a majority in the state Senate. Furious state Democrats charged Republicans were attempting to buy a Senate majority amid a crucial fight over an expansion of the Medicaid program under the Affordable Care Act.
Representatives for Puckett didn’t return multiple calls and emails requesting comment. A source confirmed a meeting to discuss the senator’s candidacy was canceled, amid a firestorm over the timing and appearance of the arrangement.
Virginia Del. Terry G. Kilgore, chairman of the tobacco commission, had told the Post that Puckett would be a strong candidate for the deputy director job if he were available.
“If he’s available, we would like to have him because of his knowledge of the area, and he formerly was on the tobacco commission for years, and he knew what we’re about,” Kilgore told the Post.
Kilgore’s office also did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The developments give Republicans 20-19 majority in the state Senate, meaning they now hold the upper hand in the budget battle and the Medicaid fight. Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe says an expansion of Medicaid must be part of the state’s next budget, while Republicans in the House of Delegates have resisted. The state’s government could shut down on July 1 if there is no deal.
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