PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — Virginia Del. Lee Carter, a Marine veteran and self-proclaimed democratic socialist, is the latest candidate to announce a run for governor in 2021.
Carter, 33, has represented Virginia’s 50th District in the House of Delegates (Manassas) since 2018. He’s a member of the Democratic party and filed paperwork for the bid in early December.
In his announcement Friday on Twitter, Carter focused on economic disparities affecting the commonwealth, which have been exacerbated by the pandemic.
“It’s no secret that Virginia is divided, but it’s not red vs. blue. It’s the haves and the have-nots. One side has the lawyers and the lobbyists, but Virginia needs a governor that’ll fight for the rest of us,” Carter said.
Carter, who co-chaired the Democratic presidential campaign of Sen. Bernie Sanders in Virginia, was recently lauded by Gov. Ralph Northam for his work to help cap insulin prices at $50. The new law in Virginia went into effect Friday.
Other bills he sponsored in 2020 that went to Northam’s desk prohibited employers from classifying workers as “tipped employees” if they are not allowed to solicit tips and another that barred jails and prisons from strip searching inmates who are minors.
He also proposed a bill that would legalize marijuana and use the tax money for reparations, but that was shot down.
He’ll join a crowded field in the Democratic primary that includes former Gov. Terry McAuliffe, current Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, State Senator Jennifer McClellan and Jennifer Carroll Foy, a former delegate who stepped down in December to focus on her governor run. Virginia has become solidly blue in the last decade, and McAuliffe, a more moderate Democrat, has faced criticism from some who say he’s boxing out younger, more diverse and more progressive candidates. Carroll Foy and McClellan would be the first Black female governor in Virginia history.
The announcement comes weeks after McAuliffe’s, and months after the other candidates. The late start, and impending General Assembly session that requires legislators to pause fundraising, means Carter will have to play catch up. The Democratic primary election in Virginia is in June.