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$178/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


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


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