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Carroll Foy Announces Run For Governor

Jennifer Carroll Foy holds microphone on House of Delegates floor
Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy prepares to speak on the floor of the House of Delegates in January during the debate over Virginia's ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment. (Photo: Craig Carper/VPM News)

Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy (D-Prince William) officially announced a bid for governor on Wednesday.

The 38-year-old criminal defense attorney from Petersburg is likely to be one of the youngest candidates in a broad field of better-known names.

Despite her relative lack of political clout, Carroll Foy cast herself as the candidate who can best relate to the problems facing Virginians. In an interview with VPM, Carroll Foy said she had firsthand knowledge of what it’s like to juggle two jobs, pay down student loan debt and face a “second mortgage” of childcare expenses while raising two-year-old twins.

“I am the person who can look at every single voter and say, ‘I see you,’” Carroll Foy said. “And I’m not just going to give you promises. I’m going to get things done with policies and solutions.”

Carroll Foy was part of the third group of female cadets to graduate from the Virginia Military Institute. She later became a public defender and was elected to the House of Delegates in 2017. She is perhaps best known as a co-sponsor of the Equal Rights Amendment, which the General Assembly ratified earlier this year.

Carroll Foy set up a leadership political action committee last year in an early signal of her run, and says she will not accept funds from regulated energy monopolies, such as Dominion Energy. The pandemic delayed Carroll Foy’s announcement by over two months, but she said it drove home a message of equity central to her campaign.

“COVID-19 has exposed what was already beneath the surface: That too many families in Virginia are struggling, people can’t get to the middle class, and so many people have been left behind,” she said.

If elected, Carroll Foy will be the first female governor in Virginia and the first black female governor in the U.S.

She faces stiff competition.

Former Gov. Terry McAuliffe has not formally announced his plans, but hired staff last year. His political action committee  raised $150,000 in large-dollar donations this month alone, underscoring McAuliffe’s reputation as a formidable fundraiser with deep ties to the Democratic Party in Virginia and nationally.

State Sen. Jennifer McClellan (D-Richmond), an attorney with Verizon who successfully pushed a sweeping energy overhaul this year, has already assembled staff and funds in anticipation of her run.

Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax says he intends to launch a bid and has stepped up appearances on radio shows in recent weeks.

Attorney General Mark Herring announced his intention to run for governor in December 2018, two months before he admitted to wearing blackface as part of a Halloween costume. A spokesperson for Herring did not respond to requests for comment.

The Constitution of Virginia  bars Gov. Ralph Northam from seeking a second consecutive term.

Ben Paviour covers courts and criminal justice for VPM News with a focus on accountability.
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