Norfolk councilwoman Andria McClellan says she’s exploring a run for Virginia lieutenant governor
Originally posted by: The Virginian Pilot
Andria McClellan, who has served on Norfolk City Council since 2016, said Wednesday she’s eyeing a run for lieutenant governor in 2021.
The Hampton Roads native said she’ll spend the next few months listening to Virginians and supporting the candidates running for office in November.
“The past few months have shone a long overdue spotlight on the inequality to access across the Commonwealth of Virginia and beyond,” she said in a press release. “We need a Virginia that works for everyone — no matter the color of your skin, your zip code, who you love or how you identify, a Virginia that has more access and opportunity for all.”
McClellan, who would run as a Democrat, also announced on Wednesday the formation of a leadership political action committee, “Access for Virginia.”
““It wasn’t our Virginia,” McClellan, 50, says in a video on her PAC website that features black-and-white clips of Norfolk’s Confederate statue, which was removed recently, as well as former U.S. Senate GOP candidate Corey Stuart and former gubernatorial GOP candidate Ed Gillespie. “It wasn’t our Virginia if you weren’t born rich, if you weren’t white, if you weren’t straight.”
“But we didn’t listen, and change is coming,” the video continues.
McClellan grew up attending Virginia Beach schools, graduated from the University of Virginia and lives in Ghent with her husband and three sons. She previously served on the Norfolk Planning Commission and worked as a campaign treasurer for Gov. Ralph Northam when he ran for lieutenant governor. She later sought but lost the Democratic nomination for Northam’s state Senate seat.
She said while serving on council, she’s been focusing on flood mitigation and sea level rise, improving broadband access, diversifying the economy and “creating a more engaged, accessible, transparent city government.” She’s also vice chair of the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission and a board member of Hampton Roads transit.
In 2018, she supported the city’s new resilience-focused zoning code that included more flood protection measures. She also co-chaired the mayor’s climate change mitigation and adaptation advisory commission.
McClellan was the sole no vote last year on the deal with the Pamunkey Indian Tribe to bring a waterfront casino to the city. She said she felt the process was rushed and the city hadn’t done enough studying on the benefits and risks.
In an interview Wednesday, she said her experience serving 125,000 constituents on the ground level while dealing with legislation that trickles down from the state makes her an ideal candidate for lieutenant governor.
“I feel like I’m ready; what I want to understand is, is Virginia ready for me?” she said, adding she would “Zoom” around the commonwealth to see if her message of access for all resonates.
If McClellan officially decides to run, she’d be vying for the Democratic nomination against at least two women of color from Northern Virginia who were first elected to the General Assembly in 2017: Del. Hala Ayala, who announced her candidacy on July 14, and Del. Elizabeth Guzman, who announced in June she was exploring a run for lieutenant governor.
When asked about the challenges she anticipates as a white woman running against candidates of color at a time when diversity is at the forefront of politics, McClellan said she acknowledged that she’s coming from a place of privilege and that she’s learning.
“I recognize that I’ve tried to utilize my place of privilege to make sure more people have a seat at the table,” she said, adding that being raised in and serving in diverse communities will be beneficial to her campaign.
On the Republican side, former Northern Virginia Del. Tim Hugo said he is “seriously considering” joining the race, the Associated Press reported.
The position, which presides over the Senate and casts votes in the event of a tie among Senators, has never been held by a woman in Virginia before. Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax became the second Black man to be elected to the seat in 2017, and the second Black person to be elected to statewide office in Virginia’s history. He’s planning on running for governor in 2021.
Attorney general candidate
In Virginia Beach, a lawyer and one-time attorney general candidate formally announced his plans to run for attorney general in 2021 on Wednesday.
Republican Chuck Smith, who also is a military veteran and served as the chairman of the Virginia Beach Republican Committee from 2006 to 2008, ran for attorney general in 2017 but didn’t have enough petition signatures to get on the primary ballot, he said in an interview.
He said he wants to focus on protecting the U.S. and Virginia constitutions, which have been “torn apart” by the current General Assembly, led by Democrats.
“I think there’s room for people who believe they have a better idea to try to change government back to the way it should be,” he said.
Another lawyer, Del. Jay Jones, D-Norfolk, announced last week he would run for the Democratic nomination. Shannon Taylor, the Henrico Commonwealth’s Attorney, is considering a run for the position as a Democrat as well, the Richmond Times Dispatch reported.
Mark Herring, a Democrat who currently holds the seat, said in 2018 he was running for governor in 2021.
Marie Albiges, 757-247-4962, firstname.lastname@example.org
Correction: A previous version of this story said Justin Fairfax was the first Black man elected to the office of lieutenant governor. He was the second Black man to be elected to the position after Doug Wilder.