A few minutes ago, Del. David Toscano (D-Charlottesville), who served for years as Leader of the Virginia House Democratic Caucus (until January 1, 2019, when Del. Eileen Filler-Corn took over after Toscano stepped down as Leader) announced his retirement from the Virginia House of Delegates. To my mind, this is a huge loss, as Toscano had a powerful set of skills – I believe in baseball people like Toscano are referred to as “Five-Tool Players” – that is very rare in state politics, or even in national politics. For instance, it’s hard (impossible?) to imagine the Virginia House Democratic Caucus without Toscano’s tremendous ability to stand up on the floor and articulate – often at a moment’s notice and without much if any preparation – the Democratic position articulately, cogently, effectively and also with the right mix of assertiveness and…whatever the word is for not being a jerk. Of course, I absolutely don’t blame Toscano for deciding to actually spend more time with his family and his business. I also thank him greatly for the years of service he gave to the House Democratic Caucus, to the General Assembly and to the Commonwealth of Virginia. For my part, I will miss him greatly, and more importantly, I think his departure creates a huge gap that will be very hard for Virginia House Democrats to fill. We’ll see if any of the new generation of delegates are able to rise to the occasion, especially given the insanity of the past several weeks here in Virginia. For all our sakes, we’d better hope they can and do.
I’m uploading video of Toscano’s speech I’ve uploaded video of Toscano’s speech (see below), as well as tributes to him from both sides of the aisle. For now, the following statement is from Katie Baker, who worked for Del. Toscano as Communications Director for the House Democratic Caucus from Jan. 2017 to March 2018.
David Toscano was the best boss I ever could have asked for. He always had my back, would fiercely defend his staff against anyone. In the 15 months I worked for him, I never once heard him say an unkind word to a staffer. He was the most equanimous leader, and you could tell that he loved what he did every single day, no matter how heavy the demands. He had the best sense of humor and could make his team laugh in even the toughest moments.
“There was confusion on Election Night in 2017. Someone thought a protester had a gun, so we went on lockdown in our war room. I was distressed afterward, and David and his wife Nancy sat with me for a few minutes, even as we were inundated with incoming election results and media inquiries. He said of his staff, ‘You guys are young. I’m old. I should be protecting you guys.’
“I was with David in Charlottesville on the day that white nationalists and neo-Nazi’s stormed his city and killed a young woman. David stood on national television and did what our president couldn’t: unequivocally condemn white supremacy and hate.”
“David has a brilliant political mind, and his floor strategy was electrifying. His natural speech was always smoother and more incisive than anything I could have written for him. He made me a better communicator, strategist, and leader of my own team. Yet he still sincerely sought my counsel, and I am so proud of the work we did together. Congrats, David, on your retirement. I am honored and humbled to have worked for you and am so grateful to have you and Nancy in my life.