Kirk Cox

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) – The Virginia GOP House caucus has named its leadership team in an important election year.The Republicans officially named House Majority Leader Kirk Cox as speaker designee, the de facto replacement for retiring Speaker William J. Howell. Cox would be named speaker in January if Republicans hold on to a majority.Del. Todd Gilbert was named as the majority leader in waiting. Republicans will be looking to maintain or even grow their 66 to 34 majority in the lower chamber. The GOP will be defending several districts where Hillary Clinton won in last year’s presidential contest.Howell announced his retirement Monday. Cox said the caucus wanted to announce its leadership team early so it could show a unified front heading into the election dance.