Potts: Still chairman
Some 19 GOP members of the Senate voted to strip him of his leadership of powerful Education and Health Committee including Sen. Mark Obenshain, R-Harrisonburg.
This was the second attempt to punish Potts for challenging Republican gubernatorial nominee Jerry Kilgore. Potts' "Operation Upset" got him on the ballot as an independent candidate, but he came away with only 2 percent of the vote.
An attempt to remove Potts from his chairmanship last year failed when Lt. Gov. Tim Kaine ruled that the move was out of order.
Speaking after the session, Potts said he was sure of the outcome all along.
"I'm delighted," he said. "I knew going in that it was a fordrawn conclusion that we were going to be fine."
Four Republicans, including Potts, voted against a report that would have realigned the committees and left Sen. Frederick Quayle, R-Chesapeake, in charge of Potts' committee, which deals with matters including K-12 education and abortion.
Quayle, Sen. Charles Hawkins, R-Chatham, and President Pro Tempore John Chichester, R-Fredericksburg, voted with the entire Democratic caucus to preserve the present committee arrangement. Sen. Frank Ruff, R-Clarksville, was absent from the session.
Keeping him in power was all about sending a message to the conservative wing of the GOP, Potts said.
"A lot of my Republican colleagues felt that we had to make a statement to that right wing element of the Republican party," Potts said.
Virginia is moving toward the center -- and toward Potts' way of thinking, the senator said. Witness the victory of Kaine and losses by the GOP in the House of Delegates.
A special election this week to replace Republican Del. Preston Bryant, who is moving into the Kaine administration, resulted in a Democratic win.
"Lynchburg yesterday is a very strong indicator of which way this state is moving," he said. "I don't think there's any question. The [GOP] house has lost seven seats in less than three years, and they haven't lost their last seat."