Women's summit attendees focused on flipping Virginia blue
By Keya Vakil
July 1, 2019

More than 1,000 activists, state and local candidates, and advocates attended the third annual Women’s Summit for Political Engagement in Tysons over the weekend, where they strategized ahead of this year’s November elections. 

The event, hosted by liberal grassroots group Network NoVA, featured state Sen. Jennifer McClellan (D-Richmond), who said she sees a huge political shift occurring due to the surge of female candidates, especially women of color.

Most of the summit was focused on this year’s state legislative races, when all 140 seats of the General Assembly are on the ballot.

The Virginia Mercury reports that McClellan pled with participants to remember how they felt the day after President Trump’s shocking victory in 2016 and to act accordingly.

McClellan urged attendees to continue to participate in the political process, saying that government “is only as good as we the people who choose to participate: who chooses to run for office, who votes, who chooses to show up at the committee meetings and demand action.”

Virginia State Sen. Jennifer McClellan at the 2019 Virginia Women's Summit
Virginia State Sen. Jennifer McClellan speaks at the 2019 Women’s Summit in Tysons. Photo © Audrey Rothstein Photography

Amid swirling rumors over her intentions to pursue statewide office, McClellan acknowledged that she’s seriously considering a run to become the state’s first female governor. But she insisted her focus right now is on this year’s elections.

Also in attendance was U.S. Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-Va.), who reinforced the importance of this year’s elections while also highlighting her attempts to reduce healthcare costs, protect LGBTQ individuals from discrimination and pass meaningful gun reform legislation.

The summit was organized by Stair Calhoun, who has worked with a group of women to organize the annual event since 2016. 

Calhoun said that the size and scope of this year’s summit grew dramatically, but reiterated that “Everything starts at the local level.”

The down-ballot chorus will no doubt continue to be one of the rallying cries for Virginia Democrats as they seek to win control of the General Assembly for the first time since 1995.

  • Keya Vakil

    Keya Vakil is the deputy political editor at COURIER. He previously worked as a researcher in the film industry and dabbled in the political world.

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