Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy files paperwork to run for governor

Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy, D-Prince William, filed paperwork to run for governor. (Ned Oliver/Virginia Mercury)

Democratic Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy has filed campaign paperwork indicating she will run for governor in 2021.

It’s widely known that Carroll Foy, a 38-year-old legislator from Prince William County serving her second term in the House of Delegates, has been considering a run for statewide office.

On Friday, she seemed to make it official by creating a campaign committee called “Jennifer Carroll Foy for Governor,” according to Virginia Department of Elections records obtained by the Virginia Mercury.

Carroll Foy had been planning a series of campaign-style events right after the General Assembly adjourned in March, just as the coronavirus pandemic began seizing public attention and forcing state policymakers into crisis mode.

Carroll Foy postponed those events, but she has been regularly pushing out news releases with policy suggestions for how the state should respond to the pandemic. She recently called for a universal vote-by-mail system for the November elections, advocated for a special session to pass a paid sick leave law and urged Gov. Ralph Northam to follow through on a planned increase to the state’s minimum wage despite some calls to delay it due to the added strain it could put on struggling businesses.

It’s not clear when Carroll Foy is planning to officially launch her campaign.

“The delegate is focused on the state’s response to the pandemic and helping her constituents manage this crisis,” said Josh Crandell, Carroll Foy’s chief of staff.

She’d be entering what’s expected to be a crowded field of Democratic primary contenders.

Though she only entered state politics in 2017 and lacks the experience of some of her possible competitors, Carroll Foy’s profile as a Petersburg native who was raised by her grandmother and went on to become one of the first black women to graduate from the historically all-male Virginia Military Institute could make her an intriguing alternative for primary voters looking for a newer voice.

Attorney General Mark Herring and Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax have both expressed interest in becoming governor, but both are trying to recover from last year’s wave of scandals that rocked the state’s Democratic establishment.

Former Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who had to leave office in early 2018 due to Virginia’s four-year term limit, is also entertaining the idea of trying to win his old job back.

State Sen. Jennifer McClellan, D-Richmond, publicly floated a run for governor in early March, telling the Richmond Times-Dispatch she was planning to announce a decision in April.

Carroll Foy’s filing raises the possibility that Virginia Democrats could have at least two black women seeking their party’s gubernatorial nomination next year.

No woman has ever been elected governor in Virginia. No black women have been elected governor in any state.

Mercury staff writer Ned Oliver contributed to this report.

CORRECTION: This post has been updated to correct the date former Gov. Terry McAuliffe left office.