Another candidate has jumped into the legislative fray to fill a vacant seat on the State Corporation Commission, but General Assembly leaders don’t agree on whether the field is still open.
William T. Reisinger, 35, an energy attorney at the GreeneHurlocker law firm in Richmond, confirmed Tuesday that he has asked to be considered for the seat on the SCC left vacant by the early retirement of Judge James C. Dimitri at the end of February.
Reisinger, a Blacksburg native and graduate of Emory & Henry College in Washington County, worked five years in the Virginia Attorney General’s consumer counsel division under former Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and Attorney General Mark Herring.
He is the second candidate to emerge since the General Assembly found four other candidates qualified for the position last spring.
One of the candidates, former Sen. John Watkins, R-Powhatan, withdrew from consideration in mid-June.
Veteran lobbyist and lawyer Philip F. Abraham confirmed late last month that he has approached General Assembly leaders about the job.
Del. Terry Kilgore, R-Scott, chairman of the House Commerce and Labor Committee, said then that he has no plans to convene the committee to consider other candidates during the special legislative session, which is expected to extend to late September.
“That stops it in its tracks,” Sen. Frank Wagner, R-Virginia Beach, chairman of the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee, said in an interview in Norfolk last week.
Kilgore has made clear that House Republicans favor David W. Clarke, a longtime Richmond lawyer and lobbyist, who also was Wagner’s second choice, after Watkins.
The other two candidates the two committees found to be qualified are Senior Assistant Attorney General C. Meade Browder Jr. and Christopher Newport University Counsel Maureen Matsen.
“If Kilgore says we’re not going to hold another confirmation hearing, we’re kind of down to (three) candidates at this point,” Wagner said Tuesday.
Clarke is “fine by me,” he added, “but the (Senate Republican) caucus hasn’t voted on it yet.”
Senate Republican leaders have a different perspective. “I think Senator Wagner is speaking out of turn,” Senate Majority Leader Tommy Norment, R-James City, said in a text message.
Norment said Sen. Mark Obenshain, R-Harrisonburg, chairman of the Senate Courts of Justice Committee, and Senate Republican Caucus Chairman Ryan McDougle, R-Hanover, “are now the points of contact with the House.”
“The Senate is not limiting itself to those candidates that have been interviewed — at all,” McDougle said Tuesday. “That would be foolish for us to do that.”
While the full General Assembly elects judges, the decision is controlled by the majority party caucus, currently Republicans in both chambers.
Norment and House Speaker Kirk Cox, R-Colonial Heights, agreed late last month to wait until mid- to late September to act on a replacement for Dimitri on the SCC, as well as a number of other judicial vacancies.
“I am optimistic that we will fill the SCC and other vacant judgeships before the end of the year,” McDougle said. “At this point, there is no consensus.”