Home 2023 Elections Flip and Defend-A-District Friday: Volume X (Karen Jenkins, Rae Cousins, Laura Jane...

Flip and Defend-A-District Friday: Volume X (Karen Jenkins, Rae Cousins, Laura Jane Cohen, Steve Foreman, Bilal Raychouni)


From Del. Rip Sullivan’s BLUE DOMINION PAC:

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

As the negotiations over amendments to Virginia’s budget appear to be nearing a conclusion, the contrast between Democrats and Republicans over what our priorities should be has been on full display. VCU recently published a statewide poll that found a majority of those surveyed would prefer the surplus go toward building or repairing schools, compared to those who believe it should be used for tax relief. Democrats have insisted our surplus be used for education and mental health. The Republicans have instead been holding out for tax breaks for wealthy Virginians and corporations.

With our kids back in school, it is the Democrats who are supporting a budget that will allocate more money toward Virginia’s schools. It is the Democrats who are the party of parents, and know that what parents really want is to invest in our childrens’ future, which starts with investing in our schools. Vote for the Democrats, like the ones featured below, to best support our children’s education.

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 89

Meet the candidate: Karen Jenkins

*HD-89 is one of the most competitive districts and a must win for Democrats to take back control of the House of Delegates.

Karen Jenkins is a lifelong resident of the City of Suffolk. Throughout her lifetime she has passionately advocated for others and currently serves on the Suffolk School Board with a proven track record and history of accomplishments. She is running for the House of Delegates for the 89th District to continue delivering results for the people of Virginia. House District 89 encompasses parts of Suffolk and Chesapeake. Karen was first elected to the Suffolk School Board in 2018 and re-elected in 2022. She is a champion for education, public safety, and mental health. As your next Delegate for the 89th District, she will continue to fight and vote for meaningful policies and legislation to support the needs of the district. At the state level, she will be positioned to write and sponsor bills and laws to benefit the schools and communities in the 89th District and throughout the Commonwealth.

During her first term on the Suffolk School Board, Karen participated in training and workshops to improve policies and procedures for Suffolk Public Schools. She was instrumental in developing business partnerships and programs to enhance student academic achievement and worked closely with state legislators to gain funding for SPS. Mrs. Jenkins currently serves on Suffolk Public Schools Legislative Committee, Access Committee, Suffolk Education Committee, and the VSBA Audit Committee. Mrs. Jenkins was elected as the VSBA Regional II Chair and appointed to the VSBA Board Of Directors. She also serves on the Board of Directors for the Blakley Weaver Foundation, the Boys and Girls Club, and the Board of the Hampton Roads United Negro College Fund.

Karen is a servant leader who will fight in Richmond for a better Virginia by:

● Paying teachers what they’re worth, fully funding public schools, and expanding STEM programming

● Securing a woman’s right to get an abortion and to make decisions about her own body

● Working across the aisle to expand access to mental health resources

● Common sense gun safety measures like background checks and “red flag” laws that keep weapons out of schools and away from domestic abusers and violent criminals

● Improve infrastructure and lower tolls in the Hampton Roads area

Who Karen is up against:

Her Republican opponent who has never served or been elected into office, is a threat to abortion rights, democratic values, and public education. HD-89 deserves an individual like Karen as she will always fight for women’s reproductive freedom, gun safety laws, affordable healthcare, and the progress of all Virginians.

Contact the campaign: Here

Contribute: Here

House District 72

Meet the candidate: Bilal Zoulfikar Raychouni

Bilal is a Middle School Computer Science Teacher in Powhatan, Virginia, and he is running for the House of Delegates seat in the new House District 72 which includes all of Powhatan, Amelia, and Nottoway. Bilal is running on a platform with two cornerstones: Instruction and Infrastructure. He chose to run for office because he represents the constituents of rural America who are in need of significant changes to advance their infrastructure initiatives, such as guaranteeing access to clean water, stable electricity, modernized roads and bridges, and robust broadband. He also chose to run for office to better represent his students: if we don’t take care of our schools by adequately funding teachers to retain top talent and ensuring our students always have access to a good meal and the best facilities, we are jeopardizing the future of our nation. Our students and our rural communities are the lifeblood of America, and we must ensure they have representatives who will act in their best interests to secure a better and brighter future for all of us.

Who Bilal is up against:

Bilal is running to flip a historically Republican district and secure the House of Delegates. His opponent, Lee Ware, has been in his seat for twenty-six years, and even moderate Republican voters with whom Bilal has spoken agree that it’s time for a change to come to this community.

Contact the campaign: Here

Contribute: Here

House District 15

Meet the Candidate: Laura Jane Cohen

Laura Jane started her career working for the Democratic Lt. Governor and Secretary of State of Georgia, her native state. In 2001, she moved to Fairfax County and became an advocate on Capitol Hill for several disease prevention and treatment organizations, eventually becoming director of outreach for a national Parkinson’s nonprofit.

After having two kids, Laura Jane taught preschool for several years before becoming a long-term substitute teacher in Fairfax County Public Schools. Later, as her children entered school, Laura Jane served on the Cherry Run Elementary PTA board for nine years, including two terms as president and, later, as the liaison to the Fairfax County Council of PTAs.

In addition to her advocacy work, Laura Jane was a small business owner for several years, running a vintage home décor shop with a close friend in Clifton.

Following the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida, Laura Jane began volunteering with Moms Demand Action, proudly wearing her red shirt to lobby lawmakers in Richmond and D.C. to reform weak gun laws. She remains an active volunteer with the group to this day.

When Laura Jane’s local school board member refused to respond to her plea to add classroom doors to her children’s open-concept elementary school, and instead insisted teachers should be armed, she knew she had to challenge her in the next election.

Claiming a nearly ten-point victory, Laura Jane went to work for Springfield District families in 2020. On the School Board, she has fought to address COVID learning loss, teach accurate and inclusive history, increase teacher and staff pay, protect school libraries from censorship, prevent gun violence, defend LGBTQIA+ students, and give teachers and school staff a seat at the decision-making table with collective bargaining rights.

In the General Assembly, Laura Jane will stand up to Governor Youngkin’s far-right agenda and stop Richmond Republicans from undermining Virginian’s values. She will fight to protect our world-class local public schools, defend abortion access, prevent gun violence, and protect our democracy.

A graduate of the University of Georgia, Laura Jane and Seth met in high school and have been married for more than twenty years. They have one student in FCPS and one FCPS graduate now attending Virginia Commonwealth University. In her free time, Laura Jane loves to hang out with her crazy family and volunteer with Food for Neighbors and Moms Demand Action. She also enjoys refinishing furniture, hiking, trashy reality tv, and bourbon.

About House District 15:

The newly drawn HD-15 contains large portions of the former HD-41, represented by Eileen Filler-Corn for the last 13 years. It mostly encompasses Burke, but also contains parts of Kings Park, Springfield, and a small part of Fairfax. A strongly Democratic district, it was carried by Terry McAuliffe with a 22% margin and elected Democrats during the midterms with a 26% margin.

Who Laura Jane is up against:

Marcus Evans is the Republican nominee for HD-15. He is relying on the same old MAGA fear-mongering tactics, like ending affirmative action and prohibiting gender-affirming care. His platform is completely out of step with the voters of HD-15, so we must defeat him this November.

Contact the campaign: Here

Contribute: Here

House District 79

Meet the candidate: Rae Cousins

As a 4th generation Richmonder, public service has always been very important in Rae’s family – her mom was a Richmond Public School teacher and her dad had a long career in workforce development.

Rae 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.

Rae graduated from The College of William & Mary, then attended Howard University School of Law. She chose Howard because of the school’s commitment to encouraging and preparing students to be social engineers for change.

Since graduating, Rae has worked at BrownGreer, a Richmond law firm 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. She has worked on programs including the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Settlement Program and the PG&E Fire Victim Trust, to ensure those harmed receive the resources they deserve to rebuild their lives.

Rae is running for the House of Delegates because she believes her legal skills will help her to 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.

Rae’s priorities include affordable accessible healthcare for all, including reproductive care, mental healthcare, and affordable prescription drugs. She wants to see top notch-schools, with modern facilities, up-to-date technology and the best teachers and staff where every child, no matter their skin color or zip code, can succeed.

Rae feels strongly that we must address the gun violence epidemic. She wants to see universal background checks, stronger red flag laws and safe storage bills.

About House District 79:

The 79th district is wholly within the City of Richmond representing diverse neighborhoods with varying incomes and ethnicities. Many of Rae’s future constituents need a hand up and she is eager to see Virginia have policies that give them that chance to succeed.

Who Rae is up against:

After defeating a member of the Richmond City Council who is the scion of a storied political family in Richmond in the primary, Rae now faces a write-in opponent who did not make the ballot as an Independent. She is going to continue attending community events and knocking on doors to hear and learn from the voters.

House District 31

Meet the candidate: Steve Foreman

Steve Foreman is the Democrat running for delegate in House District 31 against a Republican opponent and an Independent conservative opponent. HD 31 includes all of Clarke County and parts of Warren and Frederick Counties. He is running because he knows how crucial it is to return to a Democratic majority to the state legislature to prevent the loss of progress made and an erosion of our rights in the Commonwealth.

Steve’s priorities:

Steve supports economic development in rural communities, which includes extending broadband to all and advocating for small farms. He believes in strengthening local job opportunities so our kids do not have to move away from home to find jobs after graduation.

Steve recognizes that Virginia has a budget surplus that could be used to bridge the gap in providing for our children. For example, Virginia ranks 48th in spending on youth mental health. He believes it is crucial to allocate the proper funds to expand mental health and addiction services, especially in rural areas. Virginia is also behind neighboring states and the national average in funding per student in our schools, which is an issue Steve plans on addressing as delegate.

Steve supports having diverse, well-funded schools. He is committed to protecting public schools against Republican efforts to attack curriculums, promote vouchers from private schools, challenge public libraries, and other assaults on education.

Finally, Steve is supportive of reproductive freedom, voting rights, diversity, the rights of the LGBTQ community, and promoting green jobs and technology as an investment in our future.

He has endorsements from Planned Parenthood, the Sierra Club, and the Virginia Chapter of the National Organization of Women.

Who Steve is up against:

There is not much information about the Independent candidate aside from the fact that she bills herself as conservative: backing the sanctity of life, supporting a parents’ bill of rights, upholding Constitutional rights, and “depoliticizing” education. She is not the right choice for this open seat in the House of Delegates.

The Republican, Delores Oates, is also very conservative and has become controversial locally for her support for banning books in the local library and removing the library administration for their support of what she calls “smut.” As a member of the county Board of Supervisors, she voted to withhold ¾ of the library funding as a means of pressuring the library to concede to demands pushed mostly by the ultra-conservative local Catholic church. We cannot let her win.

Contact the campaign: Here

Contribute: Here

That’s it for Volume X 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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