There are EIGHT people running in the Democratic primary for Lieutenant Governor:
- Delegate Hala Ayala
- Attorney Paul Goldman
- Delegate Elizabeth Guzman
- Delegate Mark Levine
- Norfolk City Councilwoman Andria McClellan
- Attorney Sean Perryman
- Delegate Sam Rasoul
- Lobbyist Xavier Warren
I don’t yet know who I’m going to vote for. You don’t have to have been entrenched in Virginia Democratic politics for long to have become personal friends with more than half of these people. Some days I think I’ll just vote for the one whose social media and mailers and emails annoy me the least, lol! Primaries are just like this, right?
More seriously, here are some of the criteria I think are relevant, and how I’m thinking about them and using them to narrow down eight to one or two. Maybe this will be helpful to someone else. Please add any criteria you think I’ve missed in the comments.
Integrity: For me this is always first and foremost. Who is honest and principled, and unlikely to have sudden scandals? The primary is really the only vetting we do as a party, so thinking about the integrity of candidates at this stage is important. Who have you seen that is willing to tell the hard and honest truth, perhaps even when it’s risky to do so, putting their political careers at jeopardy?
Competence: The job of Lieutenant Governor requires a lot of organizational/management skills, parliamentary skills, and just the ability to keep a million procedures and motions and bills on your mind at once. It’s a little easier to assess this for those candidates who are in the legislature, since they do a bit of this work already in committees and on the floor. But obviously it’s possible to learn it without being in the legislature first–LG Justin Fairfax has been so competent he makes it look seamless, makes you forget what a complicated job it actually is.
Trustworthy to Break Ties: At the end of the day, this is one of the most important roles for the Lieutenant Governor of course. Bear in mind, that this isn’t really where you need to worry about one candidate being “too far left” ideologically. Because ties are either a) near party-line splits where we’ve lost a vote or two, or are b) not partisan issues. In either case, this won’t be some wild ultra-progressive bill you think you’re too moderate to support, because it will already have half the (conservative) Senate supporting it. On the contrary, someone who’s overly centrist or tries too hard to “work across the aisle,” or someone who has positions on a handful of issues that diverge from the mainstream Democratic platform might be concerning. This also goes to competence, because the Lieutenant Governor has to cast that vote on the fly (maybe has to anticipate from the preceding floor discussion that it will be close and expect to have to break a tie), and has to be ready and alert on how to vote.
Good Speaker: In addition to how much the Lieutenant Governor speaks on the Senate floor and how important it is that the nominee be able to explain procedure and decisions to the senators, the Lieutenant Governor as one of the top two statewide elected officials has a platform with which to talk about important issues facing Virginia. How a candidate would use that platform varies widely, and is often related to issues they were passionate about while running, or in their careers prior to running for this office. Additionally, how successfully the candidate uses the platform can vary, with some speakers inspiring others to support their causes and others not.
Ideology: This can come into play in a few ways, but mostly I’ve lumped this into discussions of other criteria, as I don’t think ideology in and of itself is as important for Lieutenant Governor as it is for most other elected officials. Ideology affects tie-breaking, but only in a very small number of fairly controlled situations. It affects how the LG uses the platform of office to speak out on issues. And lastly, it affects the last criteria, ticket-balancing.
Ticket-Balancing: People often want to have a statewide ticket (Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General) that exhibits some kind of balance—be that geographic balance, racial or ethnic balance, ideological balance, or gender balance; or all of the above. That’s complicated here, and probably depends a bit on how you think the gubernatorial and AG primaries will play out. But it’s a really diverse set of candidates, except for perhaps being a bit too heavily slanted towards candidates from NoVA. So if you’re worried the ticket will lack some sort of diversity, there are lots of ways to fix that from the LG candidate pool.
The Democratic primary will be held June 8. Early voting starts in just about a month. DPVA will most likely have official debates held around the Commonwealth, so be sure to watch out for those to get a chance to compare candidates in that setting. Get informed, know your candidates, and vote. And however it turns out, get behind that nominee and work like mad to elect the Democratic statewide ticket and the Democratic House candidates in November. We’ve made so much incredible progress in the two years we’ve been in the majority, but so much of it can be rolled right back if we lose!