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Marsh to resign from Senate

(AP) Longtime Virginia lawmaker Henry Marsh is resigning from the state Senate, ending a 22-year career in the upper chamber.

Marsh, 80, submitted a letter of resignation to Gov. Terry McAuliffe on Tuesday, saying his retirement from the Senate will be effective July 3.

Marsh was not immediately available for comment. In his letter, Marsh said he was “looking forward to taking advantage of new opportunities to continue my service to the commonwealth.”

Brian Coy, a spokesman for McAuliffe, declined to say whether Marsh was being considered for a new position in state government.

Marsh is a civil rights lawyer and was the first black mayor of the Confederacy’s former capital city of Richmond.

As a senator, Marsh represents inner-city Richmond and attended segregated schools as a child. As a student at Virginia Union University in Richmond in the 1950s, he testified before a whites-only Virginia General Assembly when it enacted “massive resistance” legislation to defy federal court orders to desegregate Virginia’s public schools.

After graduating from law school, Marsh worked in the same law firm as Oliver W. Hill, who was lead counsel for pupils at an all-black Farmville public school in a case later known as Brown v. Board of Education, the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that struck down racially segregated public schools.

Marsh is one of several Democratic lawmakers to quit the General Assembly in the last month. On June 9, former Democratic Sen. Phil Puckett shocked Virginia’s political establishment by quitting the Senate. The move gave Republicans control of the upper chamber, and launched an investigation by the FBI. At the time of his resignation, Puckett was in line for a high-level job with the GOP-controlled tobacco commission. He has withdrawn interest in the tobacco commission position and has denied any wrongdoing.

House Democratic Dels. Algie Howell and Bob Brink announced their resignations last week. All of the newly open seats lean heavily Democratic, except for Puckett’s, which leans heavily Republican.

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