Home 2025 Elections VA Sen. Ghazala Hashmi Launches Her Campaign for the 2025 Democratic Nomination...

VA Sen. Ghazala Hashmi Launches Her Campaign for the 2025 Democratic Nomination for Lt. Governor; Exclusive Blue Virginia Interview

"I think I've proven myself to be someone who takes a lot of hard hits on the issues that I care about, and I have taken those hits."

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See below for a press release from State Senator Ghazala Hashmi on the launch of her campaign for Lt. Governor. And below that, check out my interview with Sen. Hashmi, condensed slightly for clarity/readability. Also, note that three other Democrats – Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney, State Senator Aaron Rouse, and Prince William County School Board Chair Babur Lateef –  have also announced their campaigns for Lt. Governor (with possibly more candidacies to come?). So stay tuned!

Progressive Champion, State Senator Ghazala Hashmi Launches Campaign for the Democratic Nomination for Lieutenant Governor

Richmond — Today, Virginia Senator Ghazala Hashmi (D-15) is launching her campaign for the Democratic nomination for Lieutenant Governor. She plans on her first public event as a candidate with well over a hundred of her top supporters on Thursday evening. Senator Hashmi is highlighting her commitment to standing up for all Virginians, particularly those who are too often overlooked and underserved.

In 2017, after Donald Trump’s push for a Muslim ban and for a “Muslim registry” for all Muslim Americans, Hashmi felt she needed to step up for every Virginian who felt voiceless in the face of Trump’s extremism and hate. In 2019, although she was a serious underdog in both the primary and the general elections, Hashmi flipped the critical State Senate seat that gave Democrats the majority to then pass an effective, resilient, and compassionate progressive agenda.

“If we want to protect our freedoms, stand against hate and build a future that uplifts all of us, including our most vulnerable, we have to always fight for what is right,” said Hashmi. “When I first ran, I realized that any one of us can make a positive, meaningful difference. We each have a responsibility to raise our voice and stand up against injustice, particularly those injustices that impact our neighbors and our communities.”

“I’m running because we are just one vote away, in the State Senate, from MAGA extremism overrunning our schools, reproductive health care, gun safety measures, voting rights, and much more. I don’t see this office as a stepping stone; I’m running to solidify the Democratic brick wall as our next Lieutenant Governor. We need an accomplished, progressive Senator to do just that.” 

Sen. Hashmi is a widely respected progressive champion who, in 2023, was given the “Defender of Choice” award by REPRO Rising, one of Virginia’s top abortion rights groups, for her work rolling back Republican restrictions on abortion and introducing the Contraceptive Equity Act in Virginia.

Hashmi received the Virginia Education Association’s Legislative Champion of the Year Award (2022, 2023 & 2024) for pushing for stronger public school funding and leading the charge to stop book bans in Virginia schools. As a renowned environmental champion, Hashmi is the recipient of a Virginia’s League of Conservation Voters Legislative Hero Award (2020, 2021, 2022 & 2023) and Sierra Club’s Environmental Hero Award (2022). She has been similarly recognized by numerous other organizations such as Edu-Futuro, FLAVA, VCASE, and others.

As a State Senator, Hashmi has taken on special interests and passed important legislation to ensure quality, affordable health care coveragerelieve the burden of medical debt, and help seniors afford housing. And she’s fought to strengthen workers’ rights to form and join a union, require insurance companies to cover contraceptives, to crack down on hate crimes, and to improve mental health care for our veterans.  

For 18 years, Dr. Hashmi worked at Reynolds Community College where she helped young people and adults obtain lifelong skills to build successful careers. 

When she was four years old, Senator Ghazala Hashmi immigrated with her mother and older brother from India to the United States, joining her father who was beginning his long career as a college professor at Georgia Southern University. Ghazala grew up in a small Georgia town, at a time when public schools were being desegregated. 

She saw firsthand how communities can be built and dialogue promoted through intentional efforts to bridge cultural, racial, and socioeconomic divisions. Ghazala received her BA in English with honors from Georgia Southern University and was accepted directly into a doctoral studies program at Emory University in Atlanta, where she earned her PhD in American literature.

Ghazala and her husband moved as newlyweds to the Richmond area in 1991, and she spent nearly 30 years as professor, teaching first at the University of Richmond and then at Reynolds Community College. While at Reynolds, she also served as the Founding Director of the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETL). 

She and Azhar have two adult daughters who were both born and raised in Midlothian, completed their K-12 education in Chesterfield County Public Schools, and graduated from the University of Virginia.

Day 1 Endorsers
John Bell – Loudoun, Fmr. State Senator
Betsy Carr – Richmond, Delegate
Rae Cousins – Richmond, Delegate
Michael Jones – Richmond, Delegate
Rodney Willett – Henrico, Delegate
Kathy Tran – Fairfax, Chair, House Democratic Caucus; Delegate
Irene Shin – Fairfax, Delegate
Kelly Convirs-Fowler – Virginia Beach, Delegate
Patrick Hope – Arlington, Delegate
Kannan Srinivasan – Loudoun, Delegate
Andreas Addison – Richmond City Council
Stephanie Lynch – Richmond City Council
Kenya Gibson – Richmond School Board
Mark Miller – Chesterfield County Supervisor
Jessica Schneider – Chesterfield County Supervisor
Dominique Chatters – Chesterfield School Board
Dot Heffron – Chair, Chesterfield County School Board
Ed Jewett – Richmond City Clerk of Court
Amanda Pohl – Chesterfield County Clerk of Court
Dr. Wendy Klein – Women’s Health Advocate
Clarence Dunnaville – Civil Rights Leader
Khizr Khan – Gold Star Father, Recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom
Bill Leighty – Former Chief of Staff, Governor Mark Warner and Governor Tim Kaine
Alexsis Rodgers- former Richmond Mayoral Candidate
Larry Barnett – former candidate for Delegate; former Chair, Chesterfield County Democratic Committee
Charles-Allan Chipman, Richmond City Community Leader & former candidate for Richmond City Council
Angela Chiang – Central VA AAPI Leadership
Eric Lin – Central VA AAPI Leadership
May Nivar – Central VA AAPI Leadership

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Blue Virginia: I guess the first thing is maybe just for people who aren’t don’t really know who you are Blue Virginia readers aren’t that familiar with you, can you just tell them a little bit about your background and why you decided to run for lieutenant governor at this time?

Sen. Ghazala Hashmi: Sure,I think a lot of people do know that I spent almost 30 years in college classrooms, and really my background is in a higher education and teaching and learning and that’s always been my passion. But in 2016, when Donald Trump won his election, like many people and especially women across the country, I just felt like this was not the kind of America that I wanted to live in. And it certainly didn’t represent the America that I believed in. I’d spent 30 years teaching American literature, and so much of what I taught were those foundational documents of American democracy. And everything that Trump represented was counter to that. And the increasingly violent rhetoric that he and his administration were espousing, especially across many different communities – immigrants, Muslim Americans, women – I just felt an urgent need to speak out and be much more visible as a Muslim American and as a woman too and someone deeply committed to American democratic principles. And so that was the original impetus for me to run for office. And I’ve spent five sessions now really getting to  understand how the Senate operates, how the General Assembly works, the cadence of moving legislation through committees and through the chambers. And at this point, I’ve also seen how really difficult it is to move progressive legislation through when we have just a one-seat majority in the chambers or we have mixed chambers, mixed control. it’s really really difficult. We need someone as lieutenant governor who’s going to be a fighter, who is going to stand on principles and work hard to move the kind of progressive legislation that so many in Virginia have been asking for year after year. They fight in the elections to get people elected to office who are going to champion issues such as high-quality education, making sure that we have economic  opportunities for everybody. You know, we’re seeing so many working families struggle as we see these increasing economic divides. We have to have someone who is knowledgeable about the procedures in the Senate chamber, but also someone who’s willing to continue to fight and work hard with colleagues in the chamber. And I’ve established wonderful relationships with so many of my colleagues, colleagues across the aisle as well. And I have the ability to communicate, to collaborate and hopefully work in conjunction with many others to ensure that we’re working in the right direction.”

Blue Virginia: That leads to the question of what do you see the role of lieutenant governor as. Should they mostly be following the lead of the governor? Should they be carving out their own lane? Do you view it as a potentially or actually powerful position? It is more running the Senate, breaking ties? Is it more administrative or is it about having the platform of lieutenant governor, where you can go around the state as the lieutenant governor?

Sen. Hashmi: “It’s all of that, and it can be so much more than sometimes it is traditionally used as. I see breaking the ties as important, but that’s not the end of the process – and I am someone who wants to be at the beginning of the process. So when we start the discussions around critical legislation and when we see the need to have a bridge between what the executive branch is working towards in policy measures, that we have someone who knows how to bridge the relationship between the executive branch and the legislative branch, that is a critical role. I’m someone who when I come into an office, I like to create new things, I like to create new structures, new procedures, new ways of doing things that are more efficient and more effective. So that’s my goal – to work as a strong liaison. And you know we have the potential to have a wonderfully great governor in 2025. And in Virginia as you well know, the governor has just four years. So the governor has to hit the ground running and the governor needs a strong cabinet, also needs a strong lieutenant governor who is going to be able to ensure that from day one, there is clarity of purpose and that we are able to really focus intentionally on what Virginia needs. And so I’m fully in that position to be able to do that.”

Blue Virginia: Are there any Virginia Lieutenant Governors, previous ones, that you see as potentially a role model or maybe an anti-role model?

Sen. Hashmi: “I’ll talk about a role model, I see that in my own local hero here, Senator Tim Kaine has always been a Richmond favorite. And certainly we saw a wonderful relationship between then-Lieutenant Governor Kaine and Governor Mark Warner, and I think that was a really effective structure that they had. The relationship that they built has continued to this day; you see how effectively that both of our Senators are able to lead Virginia in Congress. And so that’s the role model that I would seek to emulate.”

Blue Virginia: How about anti-role-model Lt. Governors?

Sen. Hashmi: “I wouldn’t name names, but I think any times there’s not a collegial and strong relationship between the governor and the lieutenant governor, that has repercussions then on what’s happening in the General Assembly, because the priorities of the governor are not being conveyed as effectively as they need to be, nor are there effective communications from the legislative side to the executive offices. And so that kind of breakdown harms not just the governor’s administration, but it harms Virginia. So really needing to ensure that we have an effective professional and respective relationship between governor and lieutenant governor just facilitates the kind of work we need to do.”

Blue Virginia: Regarding the word ‘professional’, do you think that the legislature needs to be professionalized? Would you support a more full-time legislature?

Sen. Hashmi: “We have constantly debated this issue. Just to be frank, it is already a full-time job. I resigned my position, and you know most of us take huge financial hits when we take on this responsibility; our family has to be very much a part of it. We do have a full-time legislature, but it’s pretending to be a part-time citizens legislature.”

Blue Virginia: It’s paying at the wages of a very part-time citizen legislature, so that if you’re not wealthy or you don’t have the flexibility in your career or your family or whatever to be able to do that – which most people don’t – you can’t even think about running for legislature or lieutenant governor. I think lieutenant governor pays very little too, right?

Sen. Hashmi: “It doesn’t pay much more, right.”

Blue Virginia: So who can afford to run, who can afford to serve as lieutenant governor? Anyway, I just think professionalization of the legislature is something we need to push..We’ve debated it a million times and it doesn’t seem to ever get anywhere. This gets into the Virginia Way, which I don’t know what you think about that.

Sen. Hashmi:  “Well one of the benefits of having a part-time citizen legislature is that we do have people who are are engaged directly in their communities and in a variety of professions and they bring that expertise and perspective to the Assembly. But as you said, this model that we have really prevents a lot of good folks, people who want to be public servants, who want to work hard on policy matters, it prevents them from even thinking about running for office. And it is a huge challenge. I was at a point in my life where we had a daughter just starting college, and we knew it was going to be a financial hit, but we also thought we could manage it and and we have. But that means no vacations, no extra frills. And it is a personal sacrifice for my family, which I’m deeply thankful for that they’ve been willing to do that.”

Blue Virginia: I would argue it also, because we’re a part-time citizen legislator, even though it’s pretty much really a full-time job it’s kind of cedes power to the lobbyists who are there 24/7/365m basically – they’re always around and they can develop the expertise in their area, whereas the citizen legislators are dealing with hundreds and hundreds of different issues. There’s no way – some of them are very complex like the Virginia Clean Economy Act – this is really esoteric complex stuff here, you could be the most brilliant person in the world and there’s still no way you could have a full understanding of every one of these issues. But the lobbyist who’s paid by Dominion…they pay their lobbyists well to understand that issue, of course from Dominion’s perspective, and they will be happy to explain it (“explain” in air quotes) to the legislators – from their perspective, of course… I do think this is a really important issue which cuts to the heart of what Virginia politics are really all about – where you have corporate influence, this revolving door with corporate money sloshing around…I’m sure you’ve talked about this before, but just for this interview maybe a short synopsis of your views on all that?

Sen. Hashmi: “One thing I have always tried to do, and I know several of my colleagues do, is always to engage in competing perspectives. And so when we have legislation that’s introduced by one group or another, it is so helpful to sit down with other stakeholders to hear their viewpoints and to really dig into the data, the research that’s being offered. And as limited and hectic time is during session, I still try to do that as much as possible. But we really do rely on experts in the fields as you’re saying. But there are a variety of experts, so you don’t have to rely on just one particular corporation or one entity to provide that perspective; we have the capacity to reach out to many other folks and get a a fuller picture and an understanding. And I try to make decisions based on what I’ve learned, what I’ve researched, and then be able to provide a good decision. And of course it’s always complicated, because there there are goods and wrongs on each side and trying to get a balance on that. But ultimately the goal is to do what’s best in the interest of Virginians.”

Blue Virginia: Ultimately, though, you support campaign finance and ethics reform?

Sen. Hashmi: “Absolutely, we desperately need to do that. Our campaigns are becoming more and more expensive and it is just exhausting – it’s exhausting for our donors, it’s exhausting as candidates to be spending so much time in call time trying to raise money, and I think it’s  detrimental to our political process that we actually judge the capabilities of candidates based almost entirely on the kind of money they can raise. And to do that is to discount the other skills and abilities that so many candidates would be able to bring in. But when we have candidates –  particularly who are minorities, are women or not a part of the political process – they don’t have the kind of networks to raise millions of dollars. And as a result, we lose their other strengths. And so many of them have such wonderful strengths that they could bring to their office. And so we really need to evaluate candidates on the basis of their ethics, their integrity, the skills that they’ve developed in other professions, how they would be able to translate those skills into political office and also what they will do for their constituents – those are the measures that really outline what an effective legislator is, not the amount of money that someone can raise.”

Blue Virginia: So you’re looking at it from a candidate perspective of raising money. What about, do you think that a state-regulated corporation should be able to donate money to the people who in theory are the ones who are regulating it? Dominion again is the biggest example, but it doesn’t have to be Dominion, but they’re set up as a monopoly, they’re given that privilege in exchange for regulation, but then they also get to use ratepayer money to turn right around and lobby – not just lobby but to donate to candidates. They donate a lot of money, Dominion is a huge donor…I really think we need to do something
about this situation…but it always gets killed in committee.

Sen. Hashmi: “It’s a hard proposition…ut again we need more folks in office who are committed to having campaign finance reform, who are um standing for the proposition that state-regulated entities should not be controlling and contributing to the election of individuals. And so ‘ve been very clear on that from the beginning in 2019. But it’s a huge challenge for us to get any meaningful legislation across.”

Blue Virginia: Yeah that’s for sure, it’s incredible. So on the politics of the LG race, in 2021, we had decent Democratic turnout, but the Republicans were more energized – and that often happens after the White House switches parties –  but we’re going to have to make sure we win back the governor’s mansion this time, obviously, and sweep all three statewide offices, because Youngkin’s done a lot of damage already and he’s going to continue to do damage. We’re going to have to reverse that damage and then start moving forward again. How are we going to get that kind of enthusiasm amongst voters Democratic voters to turn out in huge numbers…assume Biden wins and again Republicans are more energized in Virginia in 2025, so how does that work? And what would you bring to the ticket that would help us win in 2025?

Sen. Hashmi: “First of all, we do have to focus intent intentionally on 2024; we can’t let our eyes off of that. So I am fully committed to working as hard as I can to get Biden-Harris reelected, and that means a lot of effort not just in Virginia but across the country. You know in the last cycle in other key races, I traveled to Georgia to knock doors for Raphael Warnock; I went to Pennsylvania to make sure that we secured that Senate seat in Pennsylvania – that made the difference. I am willing to do the the leg work, the footwork to make sure that we have a strong campaign in 2024…Youngkin’s done great damage, and one thing I will share is I think my record shows that I’ve been at the forefront at stopping a lot of Youngkin’s policies. And I hear from people who say, well he’s not that bad. And I respond he’s not that bad because of the one-seat majority we had in the Virginia Senate. That was my seat; I flipped that seat in 2019, gave us that one-seat majority. And as as chair of the Senate  subcommittee on public education, we stopped in that  subcommittee under my leadership some really horrific bills that would have dismantled public education in the way that we’re seeing it being dismantled in other states; would send public dollars into private hands; bills that were out-and-out bills on censoring and banning not just books, but banning curricula, banning what our children need to learn and the ways in which they need to be engaged in a complex world. We had direct assaults on our teachers. We had assaults on our transgender children. So in all of those issues, I have stood at the front and blocked those. So as much damage as we’ve seen under the Youngkin administration, it could have been far worse. And I’m glad I’ve been in a position to stop a lot of bills, including complete abortion ban,s here in Virginia. So what are we going to do in 2025, I think is I bring all of that knowledge, that skill, to campaigning. We campaigned effectively in 2019; this was a seat that we had been trying to flip as Democrats for many years, and I was able to do that with the the the help of a very broad coalition. And so I think the unique qualities I bring to this particular race is that I have established a broad coalition of allies and supporters, whether we’re talking about educators, labor unions…our environmental communities, our folks focused on social justice issues, housing. I have worked in all of these areas, and that coalition really translates into people who are excited to support this campaign and to make sure that we are successful. And I think we’ll see that momentum build. I also made history as the first South Asian to be elected to the Virginia Senate, as the first Muslim to be elected to the Virginia Senate. And our AAPI representation is growing and we have many AAPI communities all across Virginia. And I think we’ll see a strong coalition being built across many different groups in that way for this race in 2025.”

Blue Virginia: Do you think that to help to juice our turnout in 2025, do we need to have geographic diversity, racial diversity, ethnic diversity, gender diversity? Or is it more important to have someone who has the skillset to do a great job as lieutenant governor? Is that what voters care about?

Sen. Hashmi: “I think diversity is absolutely important. We could potentially create history in Virginia and voters get excited about that. Women at the top of the ticket, that’s exciting. But I think moreso, we have voters that are looking and are very hungry for leadership that truly cares about the their lives and about their issues. So for me, running as lieutenant governor, this is not a stepping stone. I’ve made it clear for well over a year that I’m interested in *this* position and what *this* position can do. And I know that my target focus has been entirely on this particular  campaign…When voters talk to people, they know who is authentically interested in defining a role in this capacity, that’s going to serve the needs of not just the administration but more importantly the needs of all Virginians.”

Blue Virginia: So how are you planning to get better known outside of the Richmond area? Do you have a plan to travel around the state? Because right now, I don’t know how well any of the candidates for LG are super well known…I think Spanberger is pretty well known for governor, but that’s about it.”

Sen. Hashmi: “One of one of the most humbling things is to always realize how little you are known; none of us are really known… we live in our little bubble, but outside that bubble, very few people actually know our name or know anything about us. So I think I’ve proven myself as a hard campaigner. You know, I was a complete unknown, not even in political circles in 2019, I had pushback from folks who were on local committees and I was not seen as a viable candidate. But it takes that hard effort of talking to voters, going to events, going to meet people, knocking doors. I’ve proven that in 2019. And we are certainly going to be going around the state. We’ve already set up a lot of events and opportunities for me to be meeting with local Democratic leaders and committees and sharing the vision that we have. And I already started that this Sunday, already spoke to one of our committees. And we’ve got a full calendar. I’m excited about doing that; I really love traveling Virginia, it is one of the most beautiful states. And just meeting people in diverse communities and understanding what local concerns they have is always very very enlightening. I like to learn directly so that we can translate into work legislatively that needs to be done yeah.”

Blue Virginia: How much of it do you think is really throwing out what some people call “red meat,” going really hard after the Trump Republicans, calling them fascists which I think is actually accurate, but a lot of people shy away from using tough language to describe I would say reality….They’re very harsh, far right anti-choice, I mean you’d have like the Handmaid’s Tale if they come to power….You’re known as a very thoughtful legislator, I think a little somewhat softspoken which is fine, you have a compelling personal narrative…but how much of it is “charisma” quote unquote, or really hard-edged going after the Republicans and using loud, tough, strong language? How much does that matter?

Sen. Hashmi: “I think I’ve proven myself as being one of the more vocal opponents to Youngkin; I have not shied away from calling out the governor where he needs to be called out and when he needs to be called out. So I think I’ve proven myself to be someone who takes a lot of hard hits on the issues that I care about, and I have taken those hits. Now I don’t like the bombast, I don’t like the unnecessarily vulgar rhetoric. What I do like is substance in responding. And so I never hesitate to call out either an individual or parties when I see it causing harm to our communities. But I think many many voters are quite unhappy about the deeply divisive rhetoric that some of our our folks engage in. They really want to hear what we are going to do, what we are offering, who we are basically and what we represent. And so I find it much more appealing to voters to actually listen to their concerns and then also to share my authentic responses. So I never try to hide behind a false or overtly energizing rhetoric that can’t be followed through. So if we are going to take on extremism, which *does* exist, we also have to have a counterbalancing narrative of what can be done, needs to be done. And we need to hold true to those principles. And that’s what I always try to bring is not not just attacking, but presenting…”

Blue Virginia: I agree, it shouldn’t be one or the other; we absolutely need to inspire people and say this is what, if you vote Democratic, you’re going to get all this…this will help society, this will help you, this will help your family.

Sen. Hashmi: “Because we’ve got a lot of good ideas; we need to tell people and we need to help them understand. You know, I was just thinking this morning about the ACA and how hard it was to convince people that it’s in their best interest that we have health care that’s not tied to an individual’s job. And so many of the folks that opposed the ACA did not understand that if they lose their job, if they lose their ability to actually work, they are out in the cold when it comes to vital healthcare for themselves and their family. So being able to really tell the story of why the policy has an impact on their lives is important, and I try very hard to do that. Every week we put out a newsletter that is focused on issues and that goes into details and has substance. And I hope to continue to try to just bring information to people who are outside of this little bubble so that they understand what’s happening inside their government.”

Blue Virginia: I mean, when Democrats had a governing trifecta in Virginia, we passed hundreds of pieces of of progressive legislation that were signed into law. I just don’t think most people are aware of the…tidal wave of of legislation that came through. Anyway, I just want to understand whether you are willing to call out right-wing extremism, Trumpism, MAGA, whatever you want to call it…I think that’s crucial right now; we need to say what we’re for, absolutely I agree with that. But we also need to say this is a dire threat – if if they win, this is not an exaggeration, our democracy is probably toast.  I don’t think that’s an exaggeration. So I want to make sure we have leaders who are willing to say that. We don’t have time…

Sen. Hashmi: “We don’t have time; the urgency is now and that’s why focusing on 2024 is vitally important. You know, I talk to historians and I read historians who are experts on the direction that this country is moving in and it is quite frightening. And I don’t think most Americans really grasps right now what a complex and very fragile situation we’re in. And the fascistic tendencies that we saw with Trump in the previous administration are going to absolutely corrupt should he be elected. And we have been told directly by him and his entourage what they will do – and I have no doubt that they will dismantle every structure of democracy, whether it’s in our civil service, our judiciary system, our military. They will go full force.”

Blue Virginia: They have a blueprint, it’s called Project 2025, I’m sure you know about it.

Sen. Hashmi: “They’ve laid it out, it’s not a secret, they’ve told us what they’re going to do – we’d better believe them.”

Blue Virginia: Exactly. So I just want Democratic leaders at this time in our history who will are willing to say very clearly and strongly – you don’t have to yell or whatever – but I want people to very strongly say what’s going on and make it very clear it’s not both sides, it’s not like false equivalency or whatever, like oh yeah Democrats are bad, Republican. No no no. Sure, Democrats have flaws, I’m not saying Democrats are perfect. But no, this is an order of magnitude difference here between the two parties at this point – one is pro democracy, the other isn’t.

Sen. Hashmi: “I think people have seen that I’m never afraid to speak out and I will always be speaking out on the issues that really impact communities that are already vulnerable to begin with. And I will stand up where if others cannot speak for whatever reason, because of their position or their sense of marginalization, I will speak up. I have stood up for our trans children, our LGBTQ communities. The very first action that the governor took when he was sworn in that same day he pulled down all of the language around diversity equity and inclusion language. And I called him out on day one; I stood up on the floor of the Senate, why have you done that? I am not afraid to take on those big big issues and I think I have not just the intellectual capacity but I’ve got the research, the broad understanding of complex issues, to address them and then also hopefully to put them in a language that is available to everybody. You know, after teaching in the college classroom, you have to know how to translate complex thoughts into ideas that people can understand and then can develop from their own.”

Blue Virginia: I guess the last thing, we’re running out of time, I’m pretty concerned at this point that these protests we’re seeing on college campuses – I saw your statement this morning, I thought it was very thoughtful  – I’m worried that Democrats will be divided by Israel/Gaza or whatever the issue is and that we could lose because of that. Are you concerned about this situation dividing Democrats and leading to us potentially losing in November? I’m not sure what we can do about it, though. I mean, Youngkin’s and Miyares’ approach in they’re just like crack down on protests. Personally, I think if you’re nonviolent and you’re not interfering with the education of other students – I think you said that somewhat in your statement – if you’re not harassing people and using anti-Semitic or racist or whatever language, then free speech is *crucially* important…

Sen. Hashmi: “First of all, just to address the campus issues, I reached out to all of our colleges and universities yesterday and have been in constant communication, sometimes with their government folks or with the presidents directly themselves. One thing is that all of our institutions have very clear and explicit policies on public demonstrations, public protests, the use of facilities or outdoor spaces. And as a former college administrator myself, I appreciate clarity of those policies. And I think as long as students are following the policies that are spelled out, that they are entitled to have opportunities to speak and to  demonstrate, of course not engaging in harmful or hateful rhetoric that would cause harm to other students or to impede other students’ academic opportunities. So the policies are clear and we need our students to follow those. Now what the danger is, is policies that might be created on the fly just to suppress speech, and that is something that I hope our colleges take seriously. There’s always a process for implementation of policies and I hope they go through those shared governance maneuvers before any kind of policies are placed that would suppress student voices as some might be inclined to do. I am concerned that the governor and AG are trying to overreach in this regard; they really should not be engaging at the level of institutions because the institutions themselves have a board of visitors and they have administration whose job it is to to basically manage situations like this. As far as Democrats and the 2024 elections are going to be concerned, this is a challenging time – I don’t think any of us can deny that this is a challenging time. There are some deep deep issues that we need to address, but Democrats have always been at the forefront of fighting for human rights, fighting against injustice and ensuring that there are opportunities for dissent within the party. So what we are seeing is dissent within the party. We’re seeing people asking us to think about these issues in complex ways, and that is healthy…that’s the party I want to belong to. I do not want to belong to a party as we see in the current GOP where everyone is required to acquiesce to a clearly tyrannical individual and to subvert their own good thinking to the false narratives that are created by by a cult of personality at this point. So if Democrats are engaging with each other, are forcing each other to have debates and discussions, that’s exactly what we need in a democratic system. And that’s the party I want to belong to, even if it hurts us in some ways.”

Blue Virginia: Yeah, I guess the choice is either being lock step in a sort of a top-down authoritarian movement or have a big tent…We’re very diverse on the Democratic side. You look at your colleagues on the Republican side, it’s pretty much white guys – a few women, but they’re white – and they’re pretty similar.

Sen. Hashmi: “It is so apparent when you take pictures of the chambers and the caucuses, it is so apparent which party is which.”

Blue Virginia: Yeah, I mean Republicans definitely look like Virginia maybe a 50, 60, 70 years ago – the Virginia that was in power. Anyway, is there anything else? I guess we’re just about out of time here but I really appreciate your time; this been a fascinating discussion. Maybe you want to recite a poem? You’re great at poetry, maybe something about your LG campaign? LOL

Sen. Hashmi: “I only do parodies, I take well-known poems and just mock what’s happening in our session.”

Blue Virginia: You’re great at it, I love those, keep those going please if you’re LG or or state senator, please keep those going!

Sen. Hashmi: “I will, I will, I enjoy doing it.”

Blue Virginia: Yeah, I enjoy reading them! So anyway, thanks again for your time and good luck with your kickoff.

Sen. Hashmi: “I’ll just share we have I think close to 200 RSVPs, we’ve got a lot of enthusiasm – people are just really excited here in Richmond…We have several endorsements that we will also be sharing and they are still coming in, so we’ll just be continuing to update. I’m thankful for all the supporters and the enthusiasm and I’m looking eagerly to work hard these next several months.”

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