Loudoun County Chairwoman Phyllis Randall (D-At Large) is endorsing state Sen. Jennifer McClellan for governor.
McClellan (D-9th), of the Richmond area, announced her bid last week, launching a campaign video titled “Future,” which noted a focus on the economy, affordable health care and high-quality education.
Randall and McClellan first met at the Sorensen Institute for political leadership at the University of Virginia in 2005. The two connected through their views on education and justice, according to the Loudoun chairwoman.
“She’s a remarkable person,” Randall (D-At Large) said. “She cares about people and the things that I care about — justice, education, health care for all people, the environment. I just believe she is one of the most — quite honestly — one of the most remarkable minds and remarkable talents to come along in a long time. I full-throatedly support Jennifer. Not even a question.”
According to McClellan’s campaign, she has led legislation on education spending, growing small business, expanding access to health care access, banning discrimination and inequity, safeguarding workers’ rights and voting rights and criminal justice reform, among other issues.
Randall said she’s aware of the history McClellan would make if she became the first woman and first Black woman to become governor of the commonwealth. She would also be the first Black woman to be a governor in the U.S.
But Randall said she’s focused on McClellan’s credentials, stating the senator is a qualified candidate who has served in the legislature for more than 14 years, including 11 in the House of Delegates and three in the Senate.
“We have somebody who has just prepared for years to bring the right temperament, the right education, the right policies, the right foresight, the right vision to this position,” Randall said. “The fact that she also happens to be a Black woman is just for history’s sake ... ”
McClellan said one of the reasons she is running is to make sure no one is left behind as the commonwealth looks to rebound from COVID-19.
She said Loudoun County has been a big part of the commonwealth’s economic growth and will be critical in the years ahead.
She also said Loudoun has played a role in addressing and reckoning with the commonwealth’s history of racial inequity.
“I think that’s why it means so much to me to have support from Loudoun, but it also reaffirms to me how important it is that we build in a way that addresses the inequity and painful history that we’ve dealt with so that we can grow and heal at the same time,” McClellan said.
The senator said protests have shown people want to have faith in government’s ability to come up with solutions.
“As I have been out listening to, talking to not just protesters, but people in communities across the commonwealth, they are hungry for government officials to listen to them and include them in the process of solving each of the problems,” McClellan said.
McClellan is one of three women who could become the first female governor of the commonwealth. State Sen. Amanda Chase (R-11th) and Del. Jennifer Carroll-Foy (D-2nd), another Black woman, are also running for governor in 2021. Attorney General Mark Herring (D) and Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax (D) have also expressed in running for governor.
Gov. Ralph Northam (D) cannot seek re-election. A Virginia governor cannot serve two consecutive terms in office, per the state’s constitution.
Northam won over Republican challenger Ed Gillespie by 233,086 votes in 2017.
List of recent Virginia governors
-Charles Spittal Robb (D), Fairfax County, Jan. 16, 1982–Jan. 11, 1986
-Gerald Lee Baliles (D), City of Richmond, Jan. 11, 1986–Jan. 13, 1990
-Lawrence Douglas Wilder (D), City of Richmond, Jan. 13, 1990–Jan. 15, 1994
-George Felix Allen (R), Albemarle County, Jan. 15, 1994–Jan. 17, 1998
-James Stuart Gilmore III (R), City of Richmond, Jan. 17, 1998–Jan. 12, 2002
-Mark Robert Warner (D), City of Alexandria, Jan. 12, 2002–Jan. 14, 2006
-Timothy Michael Kaine (D), City of Richmond, Jan. 14, 2006–Jan. 16, 2010
-Robert Francis McDonnell (R), City of Virginia Beach, Jan. 16, 2010–Jan. 11, 2014
-Terence Richard McAuliffe (D), Fairfax County, Jan. 11, 2014–Jan. 13, 2018
-Ralph Shearer Northam (D), City of Norfolk, Jan. 13, 2018– present
first Black governor elected