The Library of Virginia
Picture of Richard D. Obenshain Richard D. Obenshain (1936-1978) never held public office in Virginia, but he laid the foundations for the Republican successes in statewide and legislative elections during the 1980s and 1990s. In 1972 he became chairman of the state Republican Party and began rebuilding its political organization, enabling large numbers of Republicans for the first time to win election to the General Assembly. Obenshain died in an airplane crash in August 1978 shortly after winning his party's nomination for the United States Senate. His legacy was a strengthened Republican Party at all levels in the state. Increased political activism by conservative religious leaders in Virginia drew many additional voters into politics and further strengthened the party that Obenshain had reinvigorated. When he became state party chairman in 1972 there were 24 Republicans in the 100-member House of Delegates and 6 in the 40-member Virginia Senate; in 2000 Republicans hold all three statewide elective offices, and there are 52 in the House and 21 in the Senate.

Courtesy Richmond Times-Dispatch