Sam Rasoul Officially Launches Campaign for LG

It’s been widely known that Sam Rasoul was going to run for Lt. Governor in 2021, but he officially launched his campaign this morning. The Democrat from Roanoke is one of the more progressive members of the House of Delegates and could provide some regional balance to a statewide ticket since he’s from Southwest Virginia.

With Virginia being a state with extremely lax campaign finance laws that places no limits on donations made to candidates for state and local office, there’s been a lot of discussion about the influence money has in the state’s elections. In recent years, this has resulted in many candidates committing to not taking contributions from Dominion Energy since it’s a state regulated company. This has been a noteworthy trend since Dominion has been one of the largest contributors to candidates.

Del. Rasoul has taken it a step further by making a “commitment to not take any PAC money.” He continued by saying he’s “committed to only accepting cash contributions from individual donors because I believe it’s the only way we can create a truly transparent government that is responsive to the needs of working Virginians.”

“People want to be able to vote for leaders who aren’t beholden to special interests,” the delegate added while pointing out he had a goal of getting 500 individual donors by Friday. “If a politician is taking hundreds of thousands of dollars from fossil fuel industry groups or pharmaceutical companies, it’s hard to believe they are actually going to represent my interests. We’re taking all the special interest money out of the equation. No PACs, only people.”

Del. Rasoul’s entering a relatively crowded field of candidates in the Democratic primary that includes fellow delegates Hala Ayala and Elizabeth Guzman in addition to Sean Perryman (the president of the Fairfax County NAACP) and Paul Goldman. It’ll therefore be interesting to see if only accepting donations from individuals will hinder his ability to garner attention in a climate where even popular “election experts” like Rachel Bitecofer are ignorant enough about what’s going on in Virginia state politics that they thought there was only one person running for Lt. Governor.

However the primary turns out, Sam Rasoul’s announcement this morning helps emphasize how Virginia has elections every year and we’re already seeing candidates hitting the campaign trail for 2021.

Sean Perryman Considering Bid for Lt. Governor

Sean-Headshot-1-300x300While I support Hala Ayala for Lt. Governor, there have been a number of people who have expressed interest in the position who I believe would make excellent candidates. Elizabeth Guzman, for instance, is a strong progressive who represents parts of Prince William and Faquier Counties in the House of Delegates and is exploring a potential bid for the LG position. We have yet another interesting candidate now as Sean Perryman has announced that he’s considering throwing his hat in the ring.

Sean is the President of the Fairfax County NAACP, which is the largest NAACP chapter in the Commonwealth of Virginia, and has a long history of community activism. Among other things during his time at the NAACP, he’s done a tremendous job of highlighting how there are economic consequences to racism and other forms of bigotry. He’s therefore effectively highlighted how fighting hatred isn’t just a moral issue, but an economic justice one as well.

He hinted at this during his announcement when he said it’s crucial for Virginia to have leaders who will ensure everybody has the opportunity to thrive.

“Our nation and Commonwealth are in a period of crisis and our leaders are failing us,” Perryman said in a statement he put out this morning. “People are discouraged, disillusioned, and, in many cases, suffering. We must do a better job of responding to these crises and find more creative and effective ways to help everyday people not only get by but achieve their full potential.”

Many local leaders have had good things to say about Sean entering the race. Former Fairfax County School Board member Pat Hynes, for instance, highlighted how she frequently turned to him for information about the community and important issues.

“This makes me hopeful,” Pat said on Facebook. “Sean Perryman was my go-to community advocacy leader when I served on school bd. He is effective. He’s knowledgeable, tireless, focused, and honest. He builds capacity in others. Believe he will fight for our communities and win.”

Other activists have chiming in as Elaine de Leon responded to the announcement by saying she’s “been waiting for the day Sean Perryman decides to run for something basically since the day I met him. This is going to be so good for Virginia.”

A lot can obviously happen between now and next year’s primary as I imagine there are many folks who are waiting until after the November election to make a decision, but it looks like it’s stacking up to be a competitive primary. With so many strong candidates running, it’ll only strengthen the eventual nominee as the primary will force campaigns to fine tune their policy positions and run an effective field and fundraising effort (whatever that looks like in a post-Coronavirus world).