Clark resigns House seat, completes move to Suffolk

Published 5:50 pm Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Del. Nadarius Clark, D-Portsmouth, has officially resigned his House District 79 seat to run in the newly created 84th District, which spans the Isle of Wight County-Suffolk border and includes Franklin and a small area of Chesapeake.

The Virginian Pilot reported Clark’s resignation on Tuesday.

Clark is vying for the Democratic Party’s nomination in a June 20 primary against Michele Joyce of Smithfield and has been in the process of relocating to North Suffolk. Under Virginia’s Constitution, senators or delegates who move out of the districts that elected them must vacate their office.

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Clark, at age 26, made history in 2021 by becoming the youngest Democrat in the General Assembly’s history and first-ever African American elected to the 79th, covering parts of Portsmouth, Chesapeake and Norfolk. Virginia’s Supreme Court adopted redistricting maps at the end of 2021 based on the 2020 Census.

The maps removed Isle of Wight from the reliably Republican 64th District and split the county between the more competitive 83rd and 84th districts. According to an analysis by the Virginia Public Access Project, the change also moved Clark and Del. Don Scott, D-Portsmouth, into the newly created 88th House District.

The 88th was one of 22 statewide that saw two or more incumbents paired, either from the same or opposite political parties, according to VPAP.

Joyce, who had called on Clark to either resign his 79th District seat or stop running for the 84th, said in a March 16 statement to The Smithfield Times that she commended Clark for “making the difficult but correct decision.”

With Clark’s resignation, House Republicans will now outnumber Democrats 52-47 when the General Assembly reconvenes on April 12.

Though the present 79th District will cease to exist when new delegates elected under the 2021 redistricting maps take office next January, Virginia law requires that when a vacancy occurs during a recess of the General Assembly, the governor issue a writ of election to fill the vacated seat. A special election will not be held in the event the set date would be within 75 days of the end of the resigned member’s term in office.