Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

June 9, 2014

Puckett says family issues led to his decision to resign from the Virginia Senate

TAZEWELL, Va. —  A veteran lawmaker who has served Virginia’s 38th senatorial district for more than 16 years resigned Monday in a surprise move with statewide political ramifications.

“I have been grateful for the opportunity to serve my constituents from Southwest Virginia

for the past 16 years,” Phillip Puckett said in a statement to the Daily Telegraph. “And, my family has sacrificed greatly to allow me to serve, especially considering how far we live from the state Capitol. But that family sacrifice is now too great. Due to recent developments in our family, I feel I should be more available to them. They have supported me during the 16 years that I have served the people of Virginia and now I will devote my time to them.”

Puckett was elected to the Virginia Senate in 1999 following the retirement of former Sen. Jack Reasor. His legislative district included much of the historic coalfields of Southwest Virginia, including Tazewell and Buchanan counties. Puckett’s surprise resignation Monday gives Republicans a one-seat advantage in the state Senate where lawmakers are currently involved in a bitter dispute over whether to accept federal Medicaid dollars under the new Affordable Care Act law that could lead to a state government shutdown come July 1.

Puckett said his continued service in the Senate presents a direct conflict with his own daughter.

“My daughter, who is an established attorney in Russell County, has been appointed by area judges to serve in a temporary capacity as a juvenile court judge,” Puckett said. “She cannot be confirmed into the position permanently as long as I serve in the General Assembly. My colleagues on both sides of the aisle acknowledge that she is fully qualified for the position. At this point in my life, I feel that I cannot allow my political career to hamper my daughter's future and her desire to serve the families and children of our area on the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court.”

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