The last day of voting in the Democratic primary is June 8, a week and a half away, but 53,562 people have already voted, exceeding total 2017 turnout of 35,390, according to the Virginia Public Access Project. As the final days of the campaigns approach, gubernatorial and attorney general candidates have had plenty of opportunities to define their public image. However, the six remaining candidates for the Democratic lieutenant governor nomination haven’t had as much time in the spotlight. On Tuesday, the candidates met for a debate.
One of the first questions focused on a statement Delegate Mark Levine (D-Arlington) had made about making the role of the part-time lieutenant governor into something more like the vice president. Candidates used the question to explain their goals for the office and how they might work with a Republican governor.
Levine explained, “I think that the job of Virginia’s governor is too big for anyone person, whoever he or she may be. There are a lot of problems in Virginia, from gun violence to climate change to affordable healthcare. And I see the lieutenant governor working as a partner with the governor.”
He said that could include pushing things through the legislature, something that his relationships in the House of Delegates prepared him for, and that he’d be able to do that even if a Republican was elected governor.
Norfolk City Councilmember Andria McClellan said, “I’m committed to being a full-time lieutenant governor and an active partner with the governor and using that background in business and local government to tackle Virginia’s most pressing needs year-round.”
She said her role as chair of the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission demonstrated her ability to work across the aisle and get things done.
Former Fairfax County NAACP President Sean Perryman said, “I would love to work with whoever the governor may be but I think that these offices are independent for a reason.”
He said, “What I would hope to do is to go there an independent lieutenant governor that works with the governor, [and] when necessary, bring my skills in tech policy and racial justice as the former president of the largest NAACP in Virginia. But when it’s time to speak up and stand out, that is what I would do as lieutenant governor.”
Delegate Sam Rasoul (D-Roanoke) said, “Ruth Bader Ginsburg said, ‘Fight for the things you care about, but do it in a way that leads others to join you.’ And as a religious and ethnic minority growing up in the western part of the state, I had to build bridges every where I went, and so when I got to the legislature eight years ago, I joined the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus and the Rural Caucus. And I will say one thing that brings us together in many ways is a push for equity in all of its forms.”
Businessman Xavier Warren said, “We’re in a COVID crisis that has caused hundreds of small businesses to close, thousands to lose their jobs, women to drop out of the workforce at an eight times highs rate. Our schools are struggling right now, our students have failing grades, and many people are facing eviction. Beyond presiding over the Senate and performing any tie breaking vote, the lieutenant governor serves on business committees that focus on generating economic development, advancing entrepreneurship and creating jobs.”
Delegate Hala Ayala (D-Prince William) said she wanted to continue to expand healthcare.
She said, “I want to be in the room with the governor, whoever he or she may be, and use my lived experience, my experience in leadership to lean on the policies that matter most to all Virginians. I’ll continue to fight as I did as chief deputy whip to usher transformative legislation as your next lieutenant governor.”
More Moderator Controversy
A question asked by moderators drew criticism from the candidates and the Democratic Party of Virginia, mirroring a similar controversy at a recent gubernatorial debate. WJLA anchor Dave Lucas asked Rasoul about contributions from Muslim organizations outside Virginia.
He asked, “Talk a little bit about your fundraising efforts and can you assure Virginians that if you’re elected you’ll represent all of them regardless of faith or beliefs.”
Rasoul replied that most of his funds came from donors in Virginia and criticized the influence of Dominion Energy and other “special interests” who stifle things like environmental policy.
After the debate, Perryman tweeted, “The question asked at tonight’s debate about @Sam_Rasoul’s religion was wrong. No other candidate was asked about their ability to serve all Virginians because of their faith.”
Democratic Party of Virginia Chairwoman Susan Swecker replied, “We don’t ask about Christian donors, Jewish donors, etc. Ok to look at donor funding, but making it faith based is discriminatory and inexcusable. Major fail on the part of the moderator and that was personally conveyed to the moderator tonight after the debate.”
In an article about the debate, WJLA said, “During an important, relevant exchange related to campaign finance during the debate, our anchor, Dave Lucas, asked an inappropriate and disrespectful question to Delegate Sam Rasoul. We have reached out directly to Delegate Rasoul’s campaign to sincerely apologize for this question and for the impact of these words.”
Ad Spending in Gubernatorial Primary
Medium Buying reported Thursday that total TV and radio ad spending in the primary was nearly $5.6 million — $3.7 million spent by Terry McAuliffe’s campaign, $1.68 million spent by Jennifer Carrol Foy’s campaign, $176,000 spent by Senator Jennifer McClellan’s (D-Richmond) campaign. Additionally, Clean Virginia spent $38,000 supporting Foy and Fund Her spend $10,000 on McClellan.
Since the convention, Glenn Youngkin, Jason Miyares, and Winsome Sears have been holding rallies together, including one on Monday in Dumfries, Virginia. According to Potomac Local News, the candidates criticized the Virginia Parole Board, state educational policy, and initiatives to end qualified immunity for law enforcement. Youngkin said he would work with Democrats and independents to win.
Accord to Potomac Local News, he said, “It’s not an easy path to win. It’s not about the three of us. It’s about all of us.
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