The Women Running for Virginia: Princess Blanding
Keith Warther for Courier Newsroom

The Liberation Party governor candidate is a longtime educator who has advocated for equal justice under the law (and more).

Princess Blanding is the first Black woman and first openly-LGBTQIA+ candidate in Virginia history to earn a line on the ballot for governor. The veteran educator decided to run for office “to ensure that liberation is a human right–not a privilege–for all Virginians.”

If you check a sample ballot, you’ll notice an extra line followed by ‘LP’ for Liberation Party. When asked to define the word, Blanding said ‘liberation’ means to be free of oppressive systems.

“We’re talking about from A to Z,” Blanding said. “From housing to food sovereignty, to our educational system, to the unjust criminal system that we are all living under, any variable that prevents us from living in a diverse, inclusive, united, equitable, humane manner is a system that pushes forward oppression.”

Blanding on Ballot to Educate “All My Babies” and Their Families

As an educator, Princess Blanding spent the early years of her career teaching middle schoolers.

“I started off as an eighth grade physical science teacher, and I got pregnant with my middle daughter while teaching,” Blanding said. “As a single mother, as many are, I definitely understand a desire to want nothing but the best for your children and the concerns and fears of parents today.”

Blanding is the only candidate with a background in education, she has taught in the classroom and earned a master’s degree in K-12 education. Her education plan includes annual raises for public educators to “ensure competitive, professional salaries that foster the recruitment and retention of highly qualified teachers,” according to her website

“As an educator, I tell them, ‘You all are all my babies,’” Blanding said. “For all of my children across the commonwealth, I want to empower them to be free thinkers.”

From Environmental to Criminal Justice Reforms, Virginians Seek Change

Blanding wasn’t invited to the mainstage for either gubernatorial debate, a place for candidates to share their plans for Virginia. (She was invited to the second debate as a guest.) Dogwood asked what topics Blanding would have discussed during the debates. During her trips to each district in the state, she heard a similar theme. “As I move about the entire commonwealth to hear the voices and concerns of Virginians, one of those calls is to address the Mountain Valley Pipeline, which falls under environmental justice, that Southwest Virginia community members have been fighting against for a long time,” Blanding said. 

If elected, she would initiate plans to fully transition Virginia to clean energy by 2050. Focusing on equity and sustainability, Blanding says she will introduce legislation to protect forests from private development. Along with banning fracking, her legislation would require Indigenous land sovereignty impact studies prior to major environmental projects. 

Fossil-fuel industry workers wouldn’t be left behind, as she wants to transition them to clean energy jobs. Her other labor policies include extending worker protections regardless of union status and requiring all employers provide benefits for employees and their families. 

During the second debate, Blanding interrupted Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe and Republican candidate Glenn Youngkin from the audience to answer one of the moderator’s questions.

“[It was] another rally and call that I…started my interjection of speaking on is the criminal justice system and addressing crimes within our urban centers and some of our most marginalized communities.” Blanding’s path to politics started in an effort to remedy our current justice system.

Sparked by Tragedy, Blanding Pushes for Political Reform

Princess Blanding has a brother, Marcus-David Peters, who taught at the same high school where his sister was principal. Peters was fatally shot by a police officer while unclothed and unarmed in 2018. Years of her organization’s activism led to the MARCUS Alert, meant to support individuals experiencing mental health crises without getting the police involved. 

When the final legislation passed the General Assembly, Blanding voiced her displeasure. “They essentially watered it all down, and they made it ineffective,” Blanding told Dogwood in March. “We pleaded with them, tried to tell them why certain components are important, and the cake was already baked before they reached out to myself or other community members.”

One of Blanding’s goals as governor is to reallocate police department funding to existing care systems. Recalling conversations with police officers, she has them in mind too. Removing tasks like responding to mental health crises from their plate could help with departmental efficiency.

Ensuring Protections for All Workers, Legalizing Sex Work

“Our campaign, the Liberation Party, is very heavily grounded on two major pillars, and that’s equity and humanity,” Blanding said. “You see that throughout all of our policy stances, and that’s what we’re fighting for when we say, ‘Liberation is a human right, not a privilege.’”

To combat the gender-wealth gap, Blanding argues, domestic workers and teachers should be paid according to their valued skills and services. Blanding said protecting Virginians working in all industries is a key component to expanding women’s rights in the state. 

“I absolutely will legalize sex work and fight to ensure that they have the same workers’ protections and benefits,” Blanding said. “At the end of the day, we can’t talk about women’s rights and reproductive rights without also having a conversation about legalizing sex workers. 

“When I think about it, our transgender community members are probably at the highest risk of hate crimes, and they’re at a very high risk of police brutality in a lack of police protection. For so many reasons, I am all for legalizing sex work here in the commonwealth.”

Is the Liberation Party here to stay? We’ll get our first look on Nov. 2. You can find the expansive platform here.