Virginia State Sen. Jennifer McClellan is entering Virginia’s gubernatorial race as her state and the rest of the country endures uprisings stemming from the police killings of Black men and women and a pandemic that has killed more than 130,00 people in the United States. In Richmond, her state’s capital, Black residents made up more than 60 percent of the COVID-19 cases.
During her interview with The Root on Tuesday on The Root’s Instagram Live, we will ask McClellan, 47, how she will take on these challenges as governor, if she wins her primary and then the general election in November of 2021.
If she wins, McClellan, a corporate lawyer for Verizon, would be the first Black female governor of the state and the first in the nation. Keep in mind that another Black woman in Virginia, Prince William Delegate Jennifer Carroll Foy, is also running for governor. (L. Douglas Wilder (D) was the state’s first and only Black governor)
Other potential Democratic candidates include former governor Terry McAuliffe, Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, Attorney General Mark R. Herring and Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney.
McClellan’s political experience includes 11 years in the House of Delegates and four years in the Senate, where, this year alone, she has led the passage of 36 bills including healthcare, criminal justice, education, clean energy and voting rights, according to her website. One of her bills establishes redistricting criteria to avoid gerrymandering and also ends prison gerrymandering. One of the issues we will discuss is her views on defunding the police and what, exactly those words mean to her as a matter of public policy.
In Virginia, a governor cannot serve two consecutive terms, so Gov. Ralph Northam will not be eligible to run again. His term was full of drama from the start, which included a photo of him wearing blackface during his time in medical school that emerged in 2019. There was a national call for him to resign, but he refused and has seemed to have weathered the storm. Though he has not been able to shake the impact of the photo since.
We will ask McClellan about what it was like to legislate through that time as well.
The Interview will take place at Tuesday 1 p.m. ET on The Root’s Instagram Live.