Ten candidates have officially announced runs for the 2021 Virginia Lieutenant Governor (LG) primaries, and more are reported to be eyeing the seat. According to the Virginia Constitution, the LG’s primary role is the president of the Senate; however, he has no vote unless the Senate is tied.
Candidate and former Democratic Party of Virginia Chair Paul Goldman told The Virginia Star, “People are going to say, ‘If I get to be lieutenant governor, I’ll be the next governor in four years. That’s what they’re thinking. That’s what they’ve always thought.'”
Goldman added, “You look at who’s been elected, nominated, attorneys general and lieutenant governors have tended to have a big leg-up. That might not be true every year, it might not be true this year.”
The seat is also the worst-paid office of the top three state-level elected executives; according to Ballotpedia, incumbent LG Justin Fairfax earns $36,321, while the attorney general and governor both earn more than $150,000. The LG is second-in-line for the governor’s office, according to the office of the lieutenant governor, and serves on several committees.
While the office has few constitutional powers, Goldman said the office should be used for public involvement and advocacy. Goldman added that he’s not planning to use the office as a stepping stone for governor. “It’s a platform to advocate for the public. It should be a pure platform to advocate for the public,” he said. “There should be no political consideration.”
He said the low salary and part time role can be a benefit, since they allow the LG to keep another job. “It’s a little misnomer to say it’s part-time. You don’t have that many responsibilities, that’s why it’s part-time,” he said. “That’s the best job because you can still make what you were making and get the extra salary and you get driven around by the State Police.”
Republican challengers for the seat include lobbyist Puneet Ahluwalia(R), veteran Lance Allen (R), Delegate Glenn Davis (R-Virginia Beach), and former Delegate Tim Hugo (R-Fairfax). Also, Loudoun County Sheriff Mike Chapman is rumored to be considering the race.
On the Democratic side, challengers are Delegate Hala Ayala (D-Prince William), former Democratic Party of Virginia Chair Paul Goldman (D), Delegate Elizabeth Guzman (D-Prince William), Fairfax County NAACP President Sean Perryman (D), Delegate Sam Rasoul (D-Roanoke,) and lobbyist Xavier Warren (D). According to The Washington Post, Prince William County School Board Chair Babur Lateef (D) and Norfolk City Councilmember Andria McClellan (D) are also exploring runs for the seat.
Goldman thinks the race will narrow. He said, “It would be unusual for 10 people to actually be running hard on primary day, that would be unprecedented. I think the most we’ve ever had was four people at the end.”
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Eric Burk is a reporter at The Virginia Star and the Star News Digital Network. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “Justin Fairfax” by Justin Fairfax. Background Photo “Virginia Capitol” by Skip Plitt – C’ville Photography. CC BY-SA 3.0.