Home 2023 Elections Flip and Defend-A-District Friday: Volume V (Jessica Anderson, Leonard Lacey, Joshua Blakely,...

Flip and Defend-A-District Friday: Volume V (Jessica Anderson, Leonard Lacey, Joshua Blakely, Charniele Herring, Jeremy Rodden)


From Del. Rip Sullivan’s BLUE DOMINION PAC:

Flip and Defend-A-District Friday: Volume V

Welcome to the fifth edition of the 2023 Flip and Defend-A-District Series.

The Governor’s new Model Policies on “Ensuring Privacy, Dignity, and Respect for All Students and Parents in Virginia’s Public Schools” will certainly not. They are as awful as they are unsurprising. You can read them here. They are simply his latest broadside against our public schools, the teachers in them, and his culture war insistence on marginalizing LGBTQ students.

If the Republicans truly wanted what was best for our children they would be passing laws to prevent gun violence, address the enormous shortfall in funding for public schools and teachers’ salaries, and invest in preschool and afterschool programs. Add this issue to the long list of reasons Democrats must win this election. We have to elect Democrats who will pass legislation that is actually best for our children.

The candidates Project Blue Dominion features in our Flip and Defend-A-District series are the Democrats—incumbents and challengers—who Virginians need to elect to gain the majority in the House of Delegates. The stakes are high and the power to elect Democrats lies in your hands. It is the time, donations, and activism of Virginia voters that will determine our future. I hope you will join us in seizing this historic opportunity.

House District 71

Meet the Candidate: Jessica Anderson

Jessica “Jess” Anderson is a lifelong Virginian, wife, mother, community activist, runner, and has raised her family in the district for the past 21 years. Jess currently works as a front office receptionist at a public elementary school in her district.

Jess’s priorities include strengthening the public education system, protecting reproductive rights, enacting family care policies, and passing common sense gun safety reforms. She has personally navigated social safety net programs and will bring a unique perspective to the House of Delegates on how we can better uplift and support Virginians during their toughest times. Jess believes that all families deserve the same opportunities to thrive as she has had and is ready to get to work on the issues affecting her community the most.

About House District 71:

The 71st District includes the entire City of Williamsburg along with parts of James City and New Kent Counties. It is largely suburban with rural pockets in the northern corner of the district. President Biden, Senator Kaine, and Governor Northam have all won HD-71. Jess is determined to flip this newly redrawn district.

About Her Opponent:

Delegate Amanda Batten is the Republican House Caucus Chair and was first elected in 2019. Her far-right extremist views put her out of touch with the majority of voters in the district. She consistently votes against every bill on gun safety, voting rights, and access to reproductive healthcare.

Contact the Campaign: Here or visit her website Here

Contribute: Here or volunteer Here

House District 64

Meet the Candidate: Leonard Lacey 

*HD-64 is one of the most competitive districts and a must win for Democrats to take back control of the House of Delegates.

Leonard Lacey is a native of Alabama and relocated to Virginia in 1971. From an early age, Leonard was taught that service is a calling and his commitment to this principle has never wavered.

Leonard has dedicated his life to serving our community. In addition to 30 years of serving the Commonwealth of Virginia as a State Police Officer, he is also the Founder and Senior Pastor of United Faith Christian Ministry located in Stafford County.

He currently serves as Chaplain with the Stafford County Sheriff’s Office and the Department of Drug Enforcement Administration. He is a member of Stafford County’s Diversity Advisory Coalition. He is a board member and volunteers weekly serving with Stafford County Community Initiative, a local food pantry serving the region from United Faith Christian Ministry.

Who Lacey is up against:

Lacey will face Republican Paul Milde in the general election on November 8th. Milde has run for office over five times over the years; during that time, as a former elected official, Paul was responsible for losing the Aquia town center, which provided residents in Stafford with entertainment. In addition to running under the Trump agenda, Milde puts big business over the people and will continue to do so if elected.

Contact the campaign: Here

Contribute: Here

House District 50

Meer the Candidate: Joshua Blakely

The Reverend Joshua Blakely is a passionate advocate for K-12 education running for the Virginia House of Delegates in District 50 to represent the citizens of Charlotte, Halifax, Lunenburg, Mecklenburg and Prince Edward counties. As an educator, minister and public speaker with leadership experience in higher education, community organizations and the Virginia Conference of The United Methodist Church, as well as a resident of Virginia for almost three decades, Josh seeks to bring an unwavering commitment to justice, inclusion, and the betterment of rural communities to the General Assembly.

His campaign is centered around three core principles: dignity over division, neighbors over negativity, and community over controversy. He believes that by emphasizing the inherent worth and dignity of every person and foregoing divisive rhetoric, all communities – from small groups of neighbors and coworkers, to entire towns and cities – can find common ground, foster a sense of unity, and move forward in a positive direction beneficial to all.

House District 50:

House District 50 is located in Southside, Virginia and is comprised of Lunenburg, Mecklenburg, and Charlotte counties as well as parts of Prince Edward and Halifax counties. The district has voted largely Republican in previous elections but there are strong pockets of Democratic support in a few key places that make the district more competitive than it appears on paper.

Who Joshua is up against:

Delegate Tommy Wright has served in the General Assembly since 2001, running unopposed in many of his elections. He has voted with Republicans almost 90% of the time he has been in office and has supported harmful bills that seek to roll back the rights of Virginians. 

Why Josh needs to win:

There are people in District 50 who have felt like they are without a voice for too long. He need to win to be able to show them that they have a voice in Richmond.

Campaign website: Here

Contribute: Here

House District 4

Meet the Candidate: Charniele Herring

Born into a military family, Charniele moved often as a child before landing permanently in Northern Virginia. As a teenager, Charniele’s mother lost her job. Despite her best efforts, they ended up homeless. By day, Charniele attended West Springfield High School while her mother searched for work; by night, they stayed in a homeless shelter. Charniele’s experience with homelessness shaped her character, teaching her the values of hard work, resilience, and looking out for people society too often overlooks.

Charniele attended George Mason University as a part of the STEP Program for disadvantaged students, graduating with a degree in Economics. She later attended Catholic University’s Columbus School of Law and went on to work with the oldest African American law firm in the greater Washington, DC area before opening her own firm in Northern Virginia. Today, Charniele runs her own small business, Herring Resolutions, a mediation and collaborative law practice.

Charniele was elected to the General Assembly in a 2009 special election, the first African American woman from Northern Virginia ever elected to Virginia’s legislature. She has since served on the Joint Subcommittee Studying Strategies and Models for Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment, Governor McDonnell’s internal working group on voting rights restoration, the Virginia State Crime Commission, and Governor McAuliffe’s Task Force on Heroin and Prescription Drugs. She is the founder of the Virginia Legislative Reproductive Health Caucus, which was instrumental in combating TRAP and Gov. McDonnell’s forced ultrasound bill. After Democrats took the majority in 2019, Charniele was elected Democratic Majority Leader, the first African American and woman to serve in the role. She also became the Chair of the Courts of Justice Committee, allowing her to help shape criminal justice reform for the Commonwealth. She currently serves as Chair of the Virginia House Democratic Caucus and is fighting to take back our Democratic Majority in the House of Delegates.

Contact the campaign: Here

Contribute: Here

House District 90

Meet The Candidate: Jeremy Rodden

Jeremy Rodden is an experienced educator, published author, dedicated advocate/ally, and father of three. Jeremy is married to his high school sweetheart, Samantha, who is a board-certified emergency room physician employed by Chesapeake Regional Healthcare. They have three children – daughter Jade (18) and sons Gavin (13) and Quinn (8). Jeremy has been a published author of middle grade fantasy/sci-fi fiction since 2011, with over a dozen publications to his name. As an educator, Jeremy has worked for the School District of Philadelphia, JobCorps, Together We Can Foundation, and is currently an active substitute with Chesapeake Public Schools. In his work as an advocate, Jeremy has been a volunteer with CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) in the City of Chesapeake, Chesapeake Little League, and the YMCA. He is also the co-founder and secretary of Pride in the ‘Peake, Chesapeake’s first annual pride event that focuses on youth/family engagement and resources.

Jeremy’s top three priorities as a prospective legislator are: education funding (including after school program funding), environmental stewardship (including the protection of rural/agricultural land from rampant overdevelopment and adoption of clean energy resources), and civil rights protections (including LGBTQIA+ affirmation, women’s healthcare, and voting rights).

About House District 90:

HD90 is predominantly made up of the old HD78. It is entirely comprised in the City of Chesapeake and includes the Hickory and Great Bridge sections of the city as well as portions of Greenbrier. It has a mix of rural and suburban areas. In 2021, the district voted heavily in favor of Gov. Youngkin. We believe, however, that the constituency of HD90 is not as red as the numbers would suggest and, in fact, Democrats throughout the district feel ignored and suppressed. We intend to focus on revitalizing the hope of progressives and moderates in the district by focusing on relevant, specific issues such as the reckless overdevelopment of Southern Chesapeake and the subsequent issues that stem from that (environmental destabilization, school overcrowding, diminished municipal and natural resources, loss of agricultural self-sufficiency for the region).

Who Jeremy Is Up Against:

Republican incumbent Jay Leftwich is rated as the most far-right delegate in the entire House (according to VAPLAN). Del. Leftwich scores a failing rating on virtually every scorecard from organizations like the VEA (education), Virginia League of Conservation Voters (environment), REPRORising (women’s healthcare), and Equality Virginia (LGBTQIA+ rights). He is the majority whip in the House of Delegates and has mostly run unopposed in his career, leading him to feel that he does not have to answer to the voters who live in HD90 and instead can focus on protecting special interests in the form of energy monopolies, real estate developers, and others.

Contact the campaign here: Here

Contribute: Here

That’s it for Volume V of our Flip and Defend-A-District Friday series. We’ll be back next week and every week until Election Day to share more about our great candidates. In the meantime, I encourage you to review this email and future editions to find a candidate or candidates whom you would like to support with your time or financial resources.

Project Blue Dominion is committed to supporting Democratic candidates in every corner of the Commonwealth. Join us. The fight to take back the majority is on.




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