Fralin was seen as a moderate who occasionally angered GOP leadership, especially when he broke ranks and supported Governor Mark Warner's tax increase. He represents a district that includes parts of Roanoke, Roanoke Co., and Botetourt Co. While the district leans Republican, this open seat is certainly winnable by the right Democrat, especially as the state and region has trended blue. No candidates have yet announced, but Democratic Roanoke City Councilwoman Gwen Mason said she'd "think long and hard" about running. For his part, Fralin said he would not be part of the search for a Republican candidate.
This is one more sign that the GOP may have trouble holding on to the House of Delegates. And Fralin may not be the last to step aside. As more Republicans, who have had years of unopposed elections and now face the prospect of serious opposition, we may see one or two more decide now is the time to exit stage right. We'll know over the next few months.