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Dick Saslaw

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Dick Saslaw
Dick Saslaw.jpg
Virginia Senate District 35
In office
1980 - Present
Term ends
January 11, 2016
Years in position 35
Senate Minority Leader
Senate Majority Leader
House Minority Leader
Base salary$18,000/year
Per diem$180/day
Elections and appointments
Last electionNovember 8, 2011
First elected1979
Next generalNovember 3, 2015
Term limitsN/A
Bachelor'sUniversity of Maryland
Military service
Service/branchU.S. Army
Years of service1958-1960
Date of birth02/05/1940
Place of birthWashington, DC
Office website
Campaign website
Richard L. "Dick" Saslaw (b. February 5, 1940) is a Democratic member of the Virginia State Senate, representing District 35. He was first elected to the chamber in 1979. During the 2012-2013 session, Saslaw served as Democratic Minority Leader and previously served as Majority Leader when Democrats were in control of the Senate. Saslaw served as Senate Democratic Floor Leader from 1996 to 1998 and House Minority Leader from 1998 to 2008.

Saslaw served in the Virginia House of Delegates from 1976 to 1980.


Saslaw received a B.S. in Economics at the University of Maryland and served in the U.S. Army from 1958 to 1960.

Committee assignments

2015 legislative session

At the beginning of the 2015 legislative session, Saslaw served on the following committees:

Virginia Committee Assignments, 2015
Commerce and Labor
Courts of Justice
Education and Health

2014 legislative session

In the 2014 legislative session, Saslaw served on the following committees:


In the 2012-2013 legislative session, Saslaw served on the following committees:


In the 2010-2011 legislative session, Saslaw served on the following committees:


Political positions

Gas tax

Saslaw has been a fervent supporter of raising the gasoline tax in Virginia. The Senate Majority Leader said he was so desperate to raise the gas tax that he would agree to sending a 0.5% sales tax hike to VDOT — something he’d previously opposed because he doesn't want to draw general funds away from education or social services.

"This is a political issue and sooner or later someone's going to have to have a backbone to do something about it," Saslaw said.[1]

Campaign themes


Saslaw's website highlighted the following campaign themes:

  • Fiscal Responsibility & Economic Success
Excerpt: "Senator Saslaw is known for his long record of fiscally disciplined leadership on the Senate Finance Committee. Since 2008, he has served as a key budget negotiator, and has worked across party lines to pass balanced budgets as constitutionally required."
  • Education
Excerpt: "Senator Saslaw believes a strong public education system is key to a productive work force and a strong economy for the 21st Century."
  • Public Safety
Excerpt: "Dick Saslaw serves on the Senate Courts of Justice Committee, which is responsible for legislation dealing with public safety. The Senator has been one of the strongest advocates for measures that will make our neighborhoods safer."
  • Transportation
Excerpt: "Dick Saslaw has led the fight for necessary transportation funding for our region. He chairs the Senate Finance Subcommittee on Transportation, and continues to work in a bi-partisan fashion to make sure that Northern Virginia receives its fair share of transportation funding."[2]



See also: Virginia State Senate elections, 2011

On November 8, 2011, Saslaw won re-election to District 35 of the Virginia State Senate. He was unchallenged in the August 23 primary and defeated Robert Sarvis in the November 8 general election.[3]

Virginia State Senate, District 35 General Election, 2011
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Democratic Green check mark transparent.pngDick Saslaw Incumbent 61.7% 15,905
     Republican Robert Sarvis 36% 9,272
     Green Katherine Ann Pettigrew 2.3% 591
Total Votes 25,768


See also: Virginia State Senate elections, 2007

On Nov. 6, 2007, Saslaw won re-election to the 35th District Seat in the Virginia State Senate, defeating opponent Mario Palmiotto (I).[4]

Saslaw raised $784,132 for his campaign while Palmiotto raised $0.[5]

Virginia State Senate, District 35 (2007)
Candidates Votes Percent
Green check mark transparent.png Richard "Dick" Saslaw (D) 16,856 77.94%
Mario Palmiotto (I) 4,532 20.95%

Campaign donors


In 2011, Saslaw received $1,224,039 in campaign donations. The top contributors are listed below.[6]

Virginia State Senate 2011 election - Campaign Contributions
Top contributors to Dick Saslaw's campaign in 2011
VAD PAC$50,000
Virginia Medical Society$35,000
Virginia Bankers Association$34,297
Total Raised in 2011 $1,224,039
Total Votes received in 2011 15,905
Cost of each vote received $76.96


Below are Saslaw's top five campaign contributors in the 2007 election:

Contributor 2007 total
Howard Norton III $100,000
Dominion (Energy & Natural Resources) $30,500
West Group Properties $30,000
Virginia Automobile & Truck Dealers Association $26,000
Virginia Association of Realtors $25,000


See also: State legislative scorecards and State legislative scorecards in Virginia

Legislative scorecards are used to evaluate elected public officials based on voting record. Some scorecards are created by political advocacy groups with a focus on specific issues, while others are developed by newspapers and are broad in scope. Scorecards are meant to be used as a tool for voters to have a quick picture of whether their views align with a particular legislator's record.

Because scorecards can be specific to particular issues or general to a state’s legislative term, for example, each report should be considered on its own merits. Each entity that publishes these reports uses different methodologies and definitions for the terms used.

An overview for scorecards in all 50 states can be found on this page. To contribute to the list of Virginia scorecards, email suggestions to

Please see our writing guidelines if you would like to add results from an individual scorecard to this legislator's profile.


In 2014, the Virginia General Assembly was in session from January 8 through March 10. In 2015, the Virginia General Assembly will be in session from January 14 to February 28, 2015.

  • Legislators are scored based on their support of pro-business issues during the 2014 legislative session.
  • Legislators are scored on their votes on environmental and conservation issues.
  • Legislators are scored on their votes on business and quality of life issues.
  • Legislators are scored on their votes on bills that VMA introduced or was part of an coalition that introduced it.


In 2012, the Virginia General Assembly was in regular session from January 11 to March 10. In 2013, the Virginia General Assembly was in session from January 9 to February 25.

  • Legislators are scored based on their voting record on Reproductive Health and Rights.
  • Legislators are scored based on important legislation affecting business and industry.
  • Legislators are scored based on their voting record on the issue of equality.
  • Legislators are scored on their votes on key conservative issues.
  • Legislators are scored on their voting record on the issues of the principles of life, marriage, parental authority, constitutional government and religious liberty.
  • Legislators are scored on their votes on environmental and conservation issues.


Saslaw was born in Washington, D.C. on February 5, 1940.

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Political offices
Preceded by
Virginia Senate District 35
Succeeded by