Just a few months from now, the presidential election – and Donald Trump’s nightmarish presidency – will hopefully be in the rear-view mirror, and focus can shift back to more “mundane” things, such as the Democratic primary for the 2021 Lt. Governor nomination. With current Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax not running for reelection – presumably he’s running for governor, but he hasn’t formally announced yet – the Democratic field is wide open.
Who are the actual and potential candidates so far? I’ve been talking to people and have come up with the following (see below for my latest list), which has: two declared candidates (Del. Hala Ayala and Paul Goldman), three Democrats who are “exploring” candidacies (Del. Elizabeth Guzman, Norfolk Councilwoman Andria McClellan, Fairfax County NAACP President Sean Perryman), two strongly rumored candidates (Prince William County School Board Chair Babur Lateef, former Obama Administration official Nick Rathod) and several others who are more weakly rumored. Are you hearing anyone else’s name? If this ends up being the field, we could be talking about 7-10 Democratic candidates, but we’ll see. Note that we really need Ranked Choice Voting for primaries like these, because without it, someone could become the nominee with just a small plurality of the vote.
Del. Hala Ayala (HD51): Announced on July 14, saying she “Would Be First Woman and First Afro-Latina to Hold This Position, Shared Her Vision to Bridge Divides and Move Virginia Forward” (campaign website)
Paul Goldman: Announced on May 15, saying – “I intend to be the first statewide candidate in Virginia history to reject the state’s ‘anything goes campaign money’ rules. I will not accept any corporate money, whether direct or thru a PAC. I will voluntarily become the first statewide candidate to adopt the federal campaign limits which grew from the Watergate reforms. Allowing $50000, $100,000, $500,000 contributions is no longer in the public interest. Accordingly, and being ready to match my credentials with any competitor, I am starting today down the path to join Henry and Doug as a Lt. Governor of Virginia.” (campaign website)
ANNOUNCED THEY ARE “EXPLORING” CANDIDACIES
Del. Elizabeth Guzman (HD31): Announced on June 23, saying that she would “become the first woman and first Hispanic person to serve as Virginia’s lieutenant governor” and would likely announce her formal launch on Labor Day. (campaign website)
Norfolk City Councilwoman Andria McClellan: Announced on July 22, saying – “We need a Virginia that works for everyone – no matter the color of your skin, your zip code, who you love or how you identify, a Virginia that has more access and opportunity for all.” (PAC website)
Fairfax County NAACP President Sean Perryman: Announced on July 27, saying – “People are discouraged, disillusioned, and, in many cases, suffering. We must do a better job of responding to these crises and find more creative and effective ways to help everyday people not only get by but achieve their full potential.” (campaign website)
STRONGLY RUMORED AS LIKELY CANDIDATES
Prince William County School Board Chair Babur Lateef: In addition to serving as Prince William County School Board Chair, “Babur serves on the University of Virginia Board of Visitors and SPARK Foundation Board; is an active member of all of his children’s PTOs; and was selected for Governor Ralph Northam’s Transition Team. Babur also runs a successful ophthalmology practice in Prince William County, with locations in Manassas and Woodbridge. He is regularly listed as one of the Washingtonian Magazine’s Top Doctors in eye surgery. ”
Nick Rathod: “[F]ounder and former executive director of the State Innovation Exchange… Prior to leading this organization, Rathod served as the director of state campaigns for Mayor Bloomberg’s Everytown for Gun Safety, where he oversaw legislative campaigns around gun control. Rathod also worked with Senator Elizabeth Warren to help build and establish the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and later served as the Bureau’s Assistant Director, in charge of Intergovernmental and International Affairs. Rathod was U.S. President Barack Obama’s Special Assistant and Deputy Director for Intergovernmental Affairs in the Office of the President, serving as President Obama’s liaison to states and U.S. territories handling political and policy engagement as it relates to the states for the President.”
RUMORED (VAGUELY OR OTHERWISE) AS POSSIBLE CANDIDATES
Del. Sam Rasoul (HD11): First elected to the Virginia House of Delegates from Roanoke City in January 2014. Sounds like he might be thinking about running for Lt. Governor in 2021, but other than that, I’ve got nothing definitive. If I don’t hear anything in coming weeks, I’ll probably cross him off my list.
Leopoldo Martinez: A lawyer, Martinez “is the Founder of the Center for Democracy and Development in the Americas, IQLatino and the Principal of LMN Consulting, LLC. He is a member the Democratic National Committee (DNC), and the Chair of the National Committee of Latino Victory Project and Foreign Policy for America. He also seats on the Board of the Small Business Commission of the Commonwealth of Virginia and the Board of Visitors of the University Mary Washington in Virginia. He served in the Government Transition Committee for the 73rd Governor of Virginia Ralph Northam.” I’ve heard his name mentioned, but nothing more than that. If I don’t hear anything in coming weeks, I’ll probably cross him off my list.
State Sen. Barbara Favola: First elected to the State Senate from Arlington County in November 2011, Favola previously served on the Arlington County Board (1997-2012), and also was a policy advisor at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for 15 years. I haven’t heard anything solid on this one, and am close to crossing her off my list.
OTHERS WHO HAD BEEN RUMORED, BUT WHO I CROSSED OFF MY LIST
Gov. Ralph Northam’s Chief of Staff Clark Mercer: His name had been rumored, but I’m now pretty sure – based on talking with multiple sources – that he’s not going to run tihs time. As for future elections, I’d be surprised he Mercer didn’t run for something…including possible statewide office.
Loudoun County Board Chair Phyllis Randall: Now serving her second term as Loudoun County Board Chair, after being reelected in November 2019 by a wide margin, despite being outspent by former VA GOP Chair John Whitbeck. Will almost certainly run statewide at some point (2025?), just not this time around, from what I hear from multiple sources.
Del. Lashrecse Aird (HD63): First elected in 2015, represents the 63rd House of Delegates distirct (Petersburg, Dinwiddie County, parts of Chesterfield County). I had heard her name mentioned a while back, but nothing since then, so I’m taking her off my list.
Lindsey Davis-Stover: Ran for the Democratic nomination in VA10 in 2018, finishing third, behind Jennifer Wexton and Alison Friedman. I had heard her name mentioned a while back, but nothing since then, so I’m taking her off my list.
Del. Rip Sullivan (HD48): First elected to the House of Delegates in August 2014, now serves as House Democratic Caucus Chair. I had heard his name mentioned a while back, but nothing since then, so I’m taking him off my list.
Del. David Reid (HD32): First elected to the House of Delegates in the “Blue Wave” 2017 election, represents eastern Loudoun County. I had heard his name mentioned a while back, but nothing since then, so I’m taking him off my list.
State Sen. Jeremy McPike (SD29): First elected in 2015 to the State Senate, representing parts of Prince William County, now serves as Senate Democratic Caucus Vice Chair – Policy. I definitely wouldn’t be surprised to see him run statewide at some point, just not this time around.
Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney: Has a tough reelection campaign on his hands, and presumably will be focused on that at least through November, if not beyond, given that there may need to be a runoff election in December.
Former Del. Debra Rodman: I’ve heard her name mentioned, but nothing more than that. Rodman was elected in the 2017 “blue wave,” served in the House of Delegates (73rd district) for one term, then ran for State Senate in 2019 and lost a very close race to Republican State Sen. Siobhan Dunnavant (SD12).
Del. Shelly Simonds (HD94): Should have been elected in November 2017, but lost after a “tie” was (infamously) broken by having her Republican opponent’s name pulled out of a ceramic bowl. Simonds was then elected in November 2019, and is serving her first term in the House of Delegates. I’d be surprised if she ran statewide at this point, but I’ve heard her name a couple times, so I figured I’d put her on this list.
Norfolk Mayor Kenny Alexander: Was elected Mayor of Norfolk in 2016, after serving in the Virginia House of Delegates from 2002 to 2012, and in the Virginia State Senate from 2012 to 2016. I wouldn’t at all be surprised to see him run for Congress at some point…
Mike Pudhorodsky: Apparently now running for House of Delegates in the 89th district.