Home 2023 Elections Endorsement: Rae Cousins for VA House of Delegates in HD79 (Richmond)

Endorsement: Rae Cousins for VA House of Delegates in HD79 (Richmond)

Cousins is extremely impressive, running for all the right reasons, and could be a major leader in years to come.

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One of the positive aspects of covering Virginia politics is the chance to chat with, and to support, impressive new candidates. This year, for instance, we’ve got some excellent Democrats running for the first time for political office. Two of those first-time candidates I’ve been particularly impressed with for House of Delegates so far are Adele McClure for HD02 (Arlington), who I endorsed recently; and Rae Cousins for HD79 (Richmond), who  I’ve heard great things about for months, but hadn’t had a chance to chat with until earlier today – but now have, and am enthusiastically endorsing!

First, some background on this 100% Richmond City district: according to VPAP, it’s deep-“blue” (went 87% for Terry McAuliffe in 2021) and is “majority minority” (61% African-American, 26% White and 8% Hispanic/Latino). So obviously, the issue here isn’t whether or not Democrats will hold this seat in November, it’s who is the best candidate for Democrats to nominate, because essentially, the primary is equivalent to the general election here. Also note that this is an open seat, so there’s no issue of having an incumbent here, just three Democrats – Rae Cousins, Ann Lambert (the daughter of former VA State Senator Benny Lambert…yep, the supposed “Democrat” who bizarrely and irresponsibly endorsed right-wing Republican and racist George Allen over Jim Webb in the crucial 2006 US Senate election, then thankfully lost a primary the next year to Donald McEachin) and Richard Walker – vying for this nomination. Finally, according to VPAP, Cousins by far raised the most money in 1Q23 ($301k, including heavy support from Clean Virginia) and had by far the most cash-on-hand ($229k), followed by Lambert (raised $19k, had just $12k cash-on-hand) and Walker (raised $3.7k, had just $3.2k cash-on-hand).

Second, here’s some background on Rae Cousins:

  • She’s a “4th generation Richmonder” who “was inspired to become a lawyer and fight for equal justice when she watched ‘Eyes on the Prize,‘ a documentary about key figures in the Civil Rights Movement, and learned about the role that attorneys played in securing rights for Black Americans.”
  • She “graduated from The College of William & Mary, then attended Howard University School of Law. Rae chose Howard because of the school’s commitment to encouraging and preparing students to be social engineers for change.”
  • Since then, she’s “worked at BrownGreer, a local law firm in Richmond, where she manages the administration of multi-million- and billion-dollar settlement programs for people injured by harmful drugs and medical devices and environmental disasters.”
  • Importantly these days, with the Republicans’ assault on voting, Cousins: “has a passion for voter registration, particularly the restoration of rights for individuals with felony convictions. She worked on voter registration during President Obama’s campaign. As the 3rd Vice Chair for the Richmond City Democratic Committee, Rae organized voter registration drives throughout the city. Rae has helped lead efforts for the Democratic Party of Virginia’s voter protection program and as an election protection lawyer at the polls.”
  • Finally: “Rae is running for the House of Delegates because she believes her legal skills will allow her to advocate for and effect change in the communities that raised her. As a mother, she also wants to do her part to leave a legacy for her daughter that is not tainted by the issues that have persisted since she was a child.”

On the issues, Cousins is a strong progressive who believes in systemic reforms, environmental protection/environmental justice, defending public education against the assaults by Youngkin et al, taking action against gun violence, focusing on making more affordable housing available and moving away from exclusionary single-family zoning, empowering workers/unions, being a “staunch advocate for the right to an abortion and the use of contraceptive methods” and working to “expand affordable quality healthcare for all Virginians,” among other things.

More broadly, in hearing rave reviews about Rae Cousins and finally getting the chance to chat with her earlier today, I just kept thinking how she’s exactly the type of person we all want in public service – super smart, definitely has the right values and priorities, passionate about making Virginia and her district a better place (and fighting for her constituents), etc. In short, she’s running for House of Delegates for all the right reasons.

I’d also argue that electing Rae Cousins, along with Adele McClure and other impressive young Democrats running for the General Assembly this year – and hopefully if Democrats take back control of the House of Delegates this November – we could see a MAJOR upgrade from where we’re at now in that body. We could also see Rae Cousins, Adele McClure, etc. become important leaders in Virginia in years and decades to come. In fact, if there’s one person who kept coming to mind (in terms of their backgrounds, smarts, values, etc.) as I chatted with Rae Cousins, it’s former Delegate and State Senator Jennifer McClellan, who’s now been promoted – for good reason – to the U.S. House of Representatives. So…yeah, definitely get to know about Rae Cousins, and if you’re as impressed as I am, please support her leading up to the June 20 Democratic primary!

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