The Bulletin

Virginia Del. Jay Jones announces run for attorney general

By: - July 13, 2020 9:22 am

Del. Jay Jones, D-Norfolk, speaks on the floor of the House of Delegates in 2018. (Photo by Ned Oliver/Virginia Mercury)

Democratic Del. Jay Jones formally announced a campaign for attorney general Monday, spotlighting his family’s history at the forefront of civil rights battles as he seeks to become the first African American to hold the office.

“This decision we’re making today is generations in the making,” Jones, a 31-year-old lawyer from Norfolk, said in a video announcement. “Five generations ago, my ancestors were freed from the shackles of slavery. Just two generations ago, my grandfather endured systematic racism and discrimination on his journey to becoming a pioneering Black lawyer in Virginia.  And in 1960 my father and my uncle were two of the first Black students to attend an all-White elementary school in Norfolk, Virginia.”

Perhaps best known for a gripping floor speech he delivered amid the 2019 blackface scandals, Jones said progress has been made, but “the hurt, the anguish, the pain remains all the same.”

We need an attorney general who will fight for every single Virginian, who protects our consumers, stands up for all our rights, and who will lead us into the next decade by lifting everyone up,” Jones said.

Since 2018, Jones has served in the House of Delegates seat previously held by his father, Norfolk Circuit Judge Jerrauld C. Jones, a delegate from 1988 to 2002.

Jones if the first Democrat to formally announce a run for attorney general next year.

Current Attorney General Mark Herring is serving in his second term after taking office in 2014. He had announced plans to run for governor next year, but his future is unclear after he admitted last year to wearing blackface in college.

Jones has recently been at the forefront of legislative efforts to challenge Dominion Energy, co-sponsoring a bipartisan bill earlier this year that could have returned hundreds of millions of dollars to Dominion’s customers. That bill failed in a Senate committee.

His campaign announcement featured a sizable list of endorsements. His backers include U.S. Rep. Elaine Luria, D-Norfolk, and 33 Democratic members of the General Assembly.

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Graham Moomaw
Graham Moomaw

A veteran Virginia politics reporter, Graham grew up in Hillsville and Lynchburg, graduating from James Madison University and earning a master's degree in journalism from the University of Maryland. Before joining the Mercury in 2019, he spent six years at the Richmond Times-Dispatch, most of that time covering the governor's office, the General Assembly and state politics. He also covered city hall and politics at The Daily Progress in Charlottesville. Contact him at [email protected]