Lee Carter Joins the Race to be Virginia’s Governor

By Brian Carlton
January 2, 2021

House of Delegates member announced his plans through social media on Friday.

RICHMOND-And then there were five. On Friday, Del. Lee Carter entered the race to be the Democratic nominee for governor. In a video statement posted on his social media, Carter said Virginia’s biggest divide isn’t between Democrats and Republicans. Or between big cities and small towns. 

“Virginia is divided between the haves and have nots,” Carter said. “One side sends their kids to choice private schools, while the rest of us send our kids to schools that are underfunded and crumbling. And when COVID-19 hit, they got massive taxpayer funded bailouts for their businesses. We had to make do with thoughts and prayers.”  

The 33-year-old Lee Carter, a self-proclaimed Democratic Socialist, served in the Marines from 2006 to 2011. Then in 2017, he beat Republican Majority Whip Jackson Miller to represent District 50 in the Virginia House of Delegates. In 2019, he won re-election, beating Republican nominee Ian Lovejoy with 53.3% of the vote. Congressman Bernie Sanders endorsed Carter and campaigned with him right before the election. 

In his statement Friday, Carter presented a different argument than the other candidates running for governor. He argued Virginia residents have listened to career politicians and pundits for too long. Each group says there’s no other way than the current way, Carter said. 

“In this primary, we can finally pick a governor that will fight for the rest of us,” Carter said. “For the teachers and nurses. [For] the shipbuilders and the students struggling to make tuition. For everyone with a stack of bills on the kitchen table waiting to get paid. I’m running for governor so the rest of us can finally get what we need, so we can get what we deserve.”   

RELATED: Foy Resigns From House Seat to Focus on Run for Governor

Considering His Track Record

Lee Carter pushed through several bills during his time in the General Assembly. His bill capping the monthly co-pay for insulin at $50 passed the House and Senate in 2020. It took effect on Friday. Gov. Northam also signed Carter’s bill banning strip searches of children into law this past year. He also filed a bill for this month’s General Assembly session that would eliminate Virginia’s “Right to Work” law. 

Carter joins a crowded field for the Democratic nomination. State Sen. Jennifer McClellan, former House of Delegates member Jennifer Carroll Foy, former governor Terry McAuliffe and current Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax are all running. On the Republican side, former Virginia Speaker of the House Kirk Cox and current state senator Amanda Chase have declared.

Foy previously served as the delegate for District 2, stepping down to run for governor. A special election Jan. 5 will fill the vacant seat. Foy’s resignation helps her continue raising money for the campaign. If she stayed in her position, that would have stopped in January. State law prohibits lawmakers from holding fundraisers during General Assembly sessions. So far, no other candidate has announced plans to step down.

Brian Carlton is Dogwood’s managing editor. You can reach him at [email protected].

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