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Guzman Considering Bid to Become Virginia’s First Hispanic Lt. Governor

Elizabeth Guzman speaks behind podium at a press conference
Elizabeth Guzman at a press conference earlier this year. (Photo: Craig Carper/VPM News)

Del. Elizabeth Guzman (D-Prince William) is considering a bid to become Virginia’s first Hispanic Lieutenant Governor.

Guzman is a Peruvian immigrant who won her current post in 2017’s blue wave elections. She flipped a seat held by Republicans  since 1993, becoming one of the first two female Hispanic lawmakers in the legislature. Guzman co-chaired Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders's election campaign in Virginia this year and has campaigned on progressive policies like Medicaid for All.

Guzman said she would be a voice for the working class and people of color as lieutenant governor.

“The Senate needs a progressive voice -- that was apparent last session,” Guzman said. “There is no one who looks like me in the Senate at the moment and there has never been a Hispanic lieutenant governor, and I think both of those perspectives are important.” 

The lieutenant governor post is a part-time position charged with presiding over the state Senate’s daily business and casting tie-breaking votes. A number of bills approved by the House ultimately died in the Senate, where Democrats hold a narrow one-vote majority.

Richmond lawyer Paul Goldman is  the only Democrat to formally enter next year’s primary race so far. Justin Fairfax, who currently holds the post, has said he plans on running for governor.

Guzman arrived in the U.S. from Peru over two decades ago as a single mother and said she worked three jobs to make ends meet. She went on to get two master’s degrees and currently works as a social worker and public administrator for the City of Alexandria’s Center for Adult Services.

Guzman delivered  the Democratic response to President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address in 2018. She was elected as one of Virginia’s five representatives on the Democratic National Committee at the state convention earlier this month.

In this year’s General Assembly session, she successfully sponsored  legislation that will allow people convicted of drug-related felonies to access food stamps. She also pushed bills that would have  added farmworkers to the minimum wage increase and  required many employers to offer paid sick leave. Neither bill ultimately made it to the governor’s desk.

Guzman is eyeing Labor Day as a potential launch date for her campaign, according to her spokesperson, Katie Baker.

Stephen Farnsworth, a professor of political science at the University of Mary Washington, said Guzman’s base in the diverse, Democratic-trending Prince William County would be an asset in her campaign.

But he said it was too early to handicap the race when it was unclear who would run. An increasing number of Democrats vie for statewide posts as the party’s fortunes have improved, Farnsworth said.

“It wasn’t that long ago that Democrats struggled to find more than one -- or even one -- candidate for statewide election,” Farnsworth said.

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