There have been so many folks entering the crowded field of Democratic candidates running for Governor and Lt. Governor that Sen. Scott Surovell even jokingly updated his twitter profile to list his name as “Scott Surovell Not for LG.” But perhaps because incumbent Mark Herring has decided to seek a third term, there hasn’t been as much attention given to the Democratic primary for attorney general.
Back when it looked like Herring would be running for governor, Del. Jay Jones entered the race for AG and quickly started gaining support from his colleagues in the House of Delegates. Jones is a lawyer from the Norfolk area who has gained a reputation as one of the more liberal members of the House and lists helping to increase the minimum wage, expand access to Medicaid, and give teachers a pay raise as some of his accomplishments while in the General Assembly. He also comes from a family with a long history of service as his father served in the House of Delegates and his grandfather was a leading civil rights attorney.
While it wouldn’t have been surprising if most current elected officials ended up endorsing Herring over Jones once the incumbent decided to run for another term, that hasn’t necessarily turned out to be the case. According to InsideNoVA, after all, Mark Keam, Kathleen Murphy, and Marcus Simon have all recently endorsed Jones.
What makes these endorsements noteworthy is that while they all serve in the House with Del. Jones, all three of these delegates are from Northern Virginia. Since Herring is from Leesburg and represented the area on the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors and in the state senate before being elected Attorney General back in 2013. This means many of the delegates would have had a prime opportunity to develop strong relationships with Herring over the years.
Although Jones is most definitely running as a liberal voice and brings staunch progressive values with him to the campaign, you also can’t ignore how Herring has developed a national reputation for being a strong voice in opposition to Donald Trump and has tended to be one of the country’s more progressive state AGs. New endorsements rolling in for Jones therefore says a lot about the credibility people think he brings to the campaign.
With all that being said, the Democratic primary for Attorney General could indeed shape up to be one of the more interesting races even though it’s not receiving nearly as much attention as the other statewide campaign. Part of that very well could be because folks assume the incumbent will win the primary, but the field is also noticeably less crowded and the race seems to be less contentious than some of the other primaries.
There haven’t been any negative attacks launched from supporters of either AG candidate, for example, even though there has been a fair amount of tension between the gubernatorial campaigns. There’s been fierce opposition to Terry McAulliffe after many activists feel like he’s trying to push women of color out of the limelight and supporters of Justin Fairfax have accused him of getting folks to come forward with rape and sexual harassment claims (Fairfax claims the accusations are false, but many people consider them very credible).
There have also been people who have launched attacks against Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy and Sen. Jennifer McClellan in order to bring down their gubernatorial campaigns.
With special elections for General Assembly seats in VA, runnoff elections in Georgia that will decide control of the US Senate, the start of the state legislative session, and Biden’s inauguration all coming up in January, it could be awhile before the general public really starts paying attention to the 2021 primaries. But once they do, it certainly will be fascinating to see if the AG race starts receiving more attention.