Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy announced Wednesday she is running for governor of Virginia in 2021.
The Democrat represents the 2nd District, which includes parts of eastern Prince William County and North Stafford.
Carroll Foy said she is running for governor to help working families who are struggling to earn a decent paycheck, afford medical bills or get ahead.
“I understand all the challenges that Virginian families face, because I live it,” she said. “As a working mom with two jobs, my husband and I pay a second mortgage every month called childcare while saddled with student loan debt.”
If elected, Carroll Foy would be the first African American woman in the U.S. to serve as governor. She would also be the first woman governor of Virginia.
“I’m honored to be in a position to change what the face of leadership looks like in Virginia,” she said. “And I'm also laser-focused on bringing diverse, high-paying jobs to every corner of the commonwealth, improving access to health care and ensuring that every child has a world-class education.”
She is serving her second term as delegate after being re-elected in November 2019. She was a public defender when she was first elected in 2017 and now works as a criminal defense attorney in Prince William.
Carroll Foy will be highlighting her legislative victories over the past three years in the General Assembly, but this campaign is beginning in the midst of a pandemic.
She recently started a Virginia Economic Council to make recommendations about how to provide opportunities for businesses. “We’re working on developing recommendations that I hope to create as a budget amendment and build very soon,” she said.
Carroll Foy supported legislation this year that would require employers to provide paid sick leave, which she said is important during the pandemic. She also has called for an increase in unemployment benefits and more support for public schools.
“COVID-19 has exposed what was already beneath the surface,” she said, noting the pandemic has revealed structural barriers to health care faced by African Americans, Latinos and other minorities.
“I’m glad Virginians are being called what they've always been, essential,” Foy said. “When they look at their paychecks, it says that they are expendable. And that's what we need to change in Virginia.”
She has been a leading voice in the state for expanding vote-by-mail, and was one of the patrons of legislation ending requirements for absentee voting. With the COVID-19 pandemic, Foy said voters should be able to cast their ballots without the risk of physically visiting a polling location, usually at a school or other public building.
Foy said she believes it’s responsible to keep polls open, while also mailing every registered voter a ballot.
“Scientists and experts are saying that we could have a second wave of the coronavirus this fall,” she said. “And what we don’t want is thousands of people descending onto a single location where social distancing is close to impossible.”
In January, she was the chief House patron for the Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Virginia was the key 38th state to support the measure, but the amendment will likely face legal challenges if it is ever implemented.
Carroll Foy also introduced a bill this year that was passed to create a public defender office for Prince William, Manassas and Manassas Park.
Carroll Foy supported expanding Medicaid and increasing the minimum wage, as well as legislation to allow public employees the right to collectively bargain.
Virginia governors can’t serve two consecutive terms, keeping Gov. Ralph Northam out of the race. Other potential Democratic candidates include former Gov. Terry McAuliffe, Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, Attorney General Mark Herring, state Sen. Jennifer McClellan of Richmond and Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney.
Carroll Foy said she’s used to breaking barriers — she was the first public defender elected to the General Assembly and the first woman in Virginia to be elected while pregnant with twins. She also was among the first women to graduate from Virginia Military Institute.
”I know that everything is difficult if not impossible until it’s done,” she said.