By H. Harrison Coleman
Over its 415 year existence, Virginia has implemented its fair share of strange laws and rules. For instance, you cannot hunt any animal on Sundays, except for raccoons, which may be hunted until 2 PM. In Richmond, you cannot flip a coin to determine who will pay for a cup of coffee. In Stafford County, a man can legally beat his wife on the steps of the county courthouse.
Another weird law is that Virginians elect their governors and state legislatures on off-year election years. This means that this year, in Virginia, while the rest of the nation is recovering from contentious election cycles, Virginia is just beginning to gear up for its gubernatorial election, which will take place on November 2.
In Virginia, governors cannot serve consecutive terms––there’s another strange law for you––so the incumbent governor, Democrat Ralph Northam, is not eligible to run again, leaving the Democratic primary, which is being held on June 8, wide open. This article aims to provide a clear list of the candidates.
Terry McAuliffe is by far the biggest name on the Democratic roster. He served as governor of Virginia from 2014 to 2018, and now he’s back for a second, though nonconsecutive, term. He is widely regarded as a centrist Democrat, and some of his core campaign promises reflect that: McAuliffe has run a campaign focused on phasing out fossil fuels in favor of green sources, reforming Virginia’s criminal justice system and allocating more resources to teachers in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Democrat Carrol Foy, a former member of the Virginia House of Delegates, is decidedly to the left of McAuliffe, and she has run mostly on her accomplishments as a member of the House of Delegates. She is running on a campaign similar to McAuliffe’s with a few key differences: she wants to implement a Virginian version of the Green New Deal, end mass
incarceration and end Virginia’s Right-To-Work legislation.
Another member of the House of Delegates, Lee Carter, is undoubtedly the furthest left candidate in the Democratic field. He is the only member of the Virginia legislature to be a member of the Democratic Socialists of America, and he openly identifies as a socialist. The Democrat’s announcement to run for governor came off the back of a piece of legislation he introduced, which caps insulin copays at $50 per month, being signed into law. Carter advocates for a $15 minimum wage, the legalization of recreational cannabis and is running on a platform of ending cash bail, a noted hallmark of progressive legislation.
Justin Fairfax is the incumbent Democratic lieutenant governor of Virginia and has ambitions to step up a spot. His campaign has not gained as much momentum as the other candidates’, as he has made little impact on popular discourse regarding the election. His run for governor became marred by sexual assault allegations made against him in April 2020. He is running on a campaign that includes making healthcare more affordable and investing in sustainable housing.
Regardless of which Democrat is elected governor, they would probably, with the possible exception of Delegate Carter, have an easy time passing legislation, as Virginia’s Senate and House of Delegates both have Democrats in the majority. The state House of Delegates, which is also holding elections on November 2, is expected to remain majority Democratic.
The Republican bench is not nearly as varied or large as the Democrats’. This is to be expected, as Virginia sheds its Republican past and moves ever more solidly into the Democratic. That being said, let’s take a look at the Republican hopefuls.
Kirk Cox, the former Republican Speaker of the House of Delegates, is running for governor. He has run a very unassuming, quiet campaign with little online presence or widespread support. His campaign is so small and haphazard that his campaign website neglects to mention any of his political beliefs.
Amanda Chase is the undoubtedly right most candidate in this election, having become known for her Trumpian style of politics. She has encouraged former President Donald Trump to declare martial law over the disputed 2020 election results and has accused the Virginian Democratic Party of “hating white people”. After the events of the January 6 Capitol riot, she was officially censured by the Virginia Senate for her unwavering support of the domestic terrorists, who she later claimed were Antifa members in disguise.
State Senator Amanda Chase has a tumultuous relationship with the Virginia GOP. She was elected to the state Senate as a Republican but was kicked out of the party after floating the idea of running for re-election as an Independent, which is against the Republican conference rules. She officially severed ties with the Republican Party in 2020 and registered as an Independent. When she first announced her campaign, running as a Republican, the state party changed its rules for nomination to having a convention rather than a normal primary.
After this announcement, she said that she would run as an Independent––and then promptly decided to stick with the Republicans again. Her primary campaign promises include putting “In God We Trust” into every school in Virginia and decoupling the government entirely from health care. She is also a fervent supporter of the less- than- kosher school choice idea, a position taken by no other candidate in the Virginia governor’s race.
As the Virginia governor primaries––and conventions––begin to heat up, the newly-anointed blue state is proving once again that although Republicans can be competitive, this state belongs to the Democrats.