This morning, Delegate Tom Rust announced his retirement from the Virginia House of Delegates. He is opting to leave the House of Delegates on his own terms, believing that he has achieved all the major goals he had as a Delegate. The fourteen years as a Delegate is just a part of Rust’s history of public service as he was Mayor of Herndon for nineteen years before joining the General Assembly.
Rust’s retirement may have some conservatives cheering as he was a strongly moderate voice in the General Assembly and as Chairman of the Transportation Committee was central in the recent Transportation reform and other measures that some conservatives decry. The reality, however, is it is very unlikely that any other Republican will be able to hold onto the 86th district. Rust has fended off Democrats in very close battles in the last few elections, and really it was only his stature in the local community and reputation as a fair-thinking gentleman that kept getting him elected in the increasingly blue district.
Rust follows the trend of moderates from the general assembly retiring rather than bear continued internal attacks from conservatives coupled with Democratic challengers. It remains to be seen whether this trend will strengthen the conservative branch of the party, or weaken the GOP as a whole with seats like Watkins’s and Rust’s being vulnerable to Democratic takeover.