By David T.S. Jonas
Virginia Democrats have three amazing choices for Governor in 2021.
Terry McAuliffe did a great job as Governor in his first term, and absent Virginia’s one-term restriction, he would have been heartily reelected in 2017. He’s a team player, builds effective coalitions, and fights at every turn to elect more Democrats. To this day, he’s still severely underrated in terms of going big and bold on core Democratic issues. I was at the Virginia Capitol the day he signed his marquee restoration of rights executive order, (full disclosure: I served in an unpaid capacity in Gov. McAuliffe’s Counselor’s office) and as a 2009 supporter of his, it’s been a joy to watch him develop into a true statesman.
Sen. Jennifer McClellan—to put it bluntly—is one of (if not the) most talented legislators in Virginia. Whenever she speaks up in committee, I find myself putting down whatever I’m doing. She strikes me as someone who is extremely thoughtful on policy and everything a young person getting into Virginia politics should try to emulate. Her legislative accomplishments alone qualify her for statewide office—she’s earned a promotion by any fair measure.
But it’s Jennifer Carroll Foy who gets my endorsement, and it’s really simple why: without folks like her, none of the last four years is even possible.
It’s odd: when you look at who gets invited to the big bill signings, it’s peppered with Democratic leaders and long-time party stalwarts. They certainly deserve their share of the credit, but without Jennifer Carroll Foy, Elizabeth Guzman, Hala Ayala, Danica Roem, Lee Carter, Debra Rodman, Cheryl Turpin, Chris Hurst, Wendy Gooditis, John Bell, Ghazala Hashmi, or any number of folks who ran in swing districts in 2017 and 2019, there aren’t many accomplishments for party leaders to celebrate.
It’s fallen down the memory hole, but in early 2017, there were a lot of voices in Democratic circles downplaying our chances to take the House of Delegates and tried to narrow the field/map. Foy and countless others pushed through the noise and set us up for long-term success.
In a saner system, they’d be the shot-callers in this party. They are the difference-makers. They made our majorities.
Foy is an especially worthy champion of this newer class of Democratic electeds. She flipped a red seat in 2017 with 63% of the vote and was reelected with 60.5% of the vote in 2019. She’s a winner where we need victories most, and she represents the new energy that’s revitalized the General Assembly and Virginia as a whole.
And she did it her way.
Foy was confronting Dominion and pushing to end a “pay-to-play” system that entrenches Republican power long before it became politically viable.
Foy is the only candidate who will spend real political capital to end Virginia’s “right-to-work” laws and focus our economic development dollars on the workforce and small business.
And even on the issues like gun violence prevention or education funding where the candidates largely agree, Foy will most effectively use the Governor’s bully pulpit to tilt the scales just a little bit more to the interests of everyday people.
Just as important is Foy’s place in Virginia’s history. She’s a graduate of VMI. She’s an attorney who served as a public defender. She’s a foster mom. She’s every bit the inheritor of the warrior-scholar tradition that peppered the Virginia history textbooks I read in middle school. Her narrative deserves to be in those books as well.
Obviously, leaders like Terry McAuliffe and Jennifer McClellan put in a lot of groundwork to set the table and help newer voices get elected. And the best part about the last four years has been—while not always pretty—watching our party come together to win elections and pass big legislation.
But the next chapter in Virginia’s history is here. It only gets harder from this point forward. And Jennifer Carroll Foy is the right person to bend Virginia closer to its lofty ideal.
I’m proud to endorse her.