- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 2, 2016

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Republican lawmakers formally rejected Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s pick for the Virginia Supreme Court on Wednesday, but offered no clue how they intend to get their preferred judge elected to the high court.

The GOP-controlled House voted down Justice Jane Marum Roush - who temporarily served on the court last year and earlier this year - with 55 Republicans voting against her. Lawmakers typically abstain from voting rather than voting against a judicial candidate they oppose.

Democratic House Minority Leader Del. David Toscano said he was troubled by the votes against Roush, saying they were intended to slight McAuliffe.

“They were basically saying, ‘take that, governor,’ and that was a very sad thing to watch,” Toscano said.

While the Senate voted to approve Roush, the House vote against her effectively ends any chance of Roush being approved by the General Assembly this legislative session.

While governors can make temporary appointments to the bench, lawmakers have the final say in electing judges. Republicans have said they won’t support Roush in part because GOP leaders felt they should have been consulted before McAuliffe appointed her last summer.

A lone Republican holdout senator, Sen. Glen Sturtevant, has prevented the GOP from moving forward with their preferred pick to replace Roush, Court of Appeals Judge Rossie Alston.

Republicans have only a one-vote majority in the Senate, and have been unsuccessful in efforts so far to pick up a Democratic defector to elect Alston.

Sturtevant said after the vote Wednesday that he remains firm in his opposition to putting Alston on the court and expressed frustration at the way the nominating process has been politicized.

“The continued politicization of it has been unfortunate,” Sturtevant said.

The legislative session is set to end next week. If the General Assembly adjourns without electing a justice, McAuliffe can reappoint Roush to a temporary assignment.

Republican leaders reiterated their support Wednesday for Alston, but were tight-lipped on how they were going to get another vote in the Senate to elect him.

“A lot of next week is going to be focused on judges,” said GOP Senate caucus leader Sen. Ryan McDougle.

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