The University of Virginia governing board leader, who last year lost a prolonged power struggle at the historic campus in Charlottesville, took a key step toward victory Tuesday in a battle to stay on the board.

The state Senate’s Privileges and Elections Committee easily approved legislation to confirm Gov. Robert F. McDonnell’s reappointment of Helen E. Dragas to serve on the U-Va. Board of Visitors through June 2016. The action came after the committee rejected, 12 to 3, an amendment from Sen. Janet D. Howell (D-Fairfax) to block Dragas’s confirmation.

The bill now heads to the full Senate, where its prospects for passage seem strong; the measure also is likely to win passage in the House of Delegates. Dragas is backed not only by McDonnell (R) but also by at least one of his Democratic predecessors, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner.

Even so, it is rare for the legislature to debate a gubernatorial appointment to a university board.

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