Current Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam endorsed former Gov. Terry McAuliffe in the 2021 race for governor, Politico reports.
In Virginia, governors can’t serve back to back, but a former governor can try to run again. McAuliffe took that rule to heart and is running for a new term in a slate of diverse candidates well poised to move the state forward.
A Virginia governor has not won re-election in close to fifty years. Northam’s endorsement reportedly came down to McAuliffe; State Sen. Jennifer McClellan; former Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy; Del. Lee Carter; and current Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax.
Despite being exposed for wearing Blackface in an old photo back in 2019, Northam’s support was highly sought after. He claims that he met with all of the candidates except one who was not interested in his endorsement.
A New Day?
Virginia has changed some since McAuliffe was last in office. Over the past four years, Virginia expanded Medicaid and LGBTQ+ protections, raised the minimum wage, and enacted new gun laws. This year alone Virginia has legalized and decriminalized marijuana, ended the death penalty, and passed protections for homeowners from foreclosure.
McClellan called out McAullife’s campaign earlier this week for a campaign email that seemingly takes credit for her legislative effort in writing Virginia’s Voting Rights Act.
“Del. @pricefordel95 and I wrote the Voting Rights Act of Virginia and worked hard to get it passed this session. Women of color have long been doing the work to expand and protect voting rights. It’s a shame to see Gov. McAuliffe attempt to claim credit for our work.”
During a debate, McAuliffe’s opponents also took aim at his record. Fairfax also took aim at his opponents for calling for his resignation. He recently came under fire for comparing calls for his resignation to the murders of Emmett Till and George Floyd. As NewsOne’s Charise Frazier writes, “But comparing his experience to the definitive state-sanctioned killings of two Black men whose deaths heightened the social justice movement, is troubling.
If either McClellan or Foy is elected, they would become Virginia’s first woman governor and the country’s first Black woman governor. McAuliffe has considerable Black support, with endorsements from several members of the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus.
In addition to the McAuliffe endorsement, Northam threw his support behind Del. Jay Jones against incumbent Attorney General Mark Herring in the AG race.
“He has been my partner as we have worked to change our Commonwealth. He also understands the deep scars of racism and will represent the diversity of our Commonwealth,” Northam said in the statement about Jones.
The Democratic primary is June 8, with the general election on November 2.
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