by Tram Nguyen, the Co-Executive Director of New Virginia Majority and Alexsis Rodgers, the Virginia State Director for Care in Action.

Women of color, the Democratic Party’s base, are organizing to elect McClellan 

Families and children in Virginia were already struggling before the pandemic, and many more are facing devastating hardship and instability, unsure of how they will afford food, housing or child care. Our current collection of safety net programs are not enough to protect families. The human toll of the past year has hurt and broken us in so many ways that it’s hard to even describe the loss.

Virginia is facing a health and economic crisis compounded by 400-plus years of racial injustice. It’s clear that many communities are experiencing greater hardships because of existing gaps in our system that favor a few and leave others behind. Unfortunately, people are losing faith in their government to help them. We need a governor who knows how to listen, solve problems and will always uplift the voices of those who have been ignored.

For Care in Action and New Virginia Majority, that champion is Senator Jennifer McClellan.

During a time where families are trying to survive during the pandemic, McClellan has been leading the fight to rebuild the state’s economy and safety nets. Her legislation during session prioritized relief to families, small business and workers; focusing on direct investments to support women and communities of color.

Her first policy rollout as a candidate was for universal child care, ensuring parents can work outside the home and children have access to high-quality care and education. She is the most productive legislator in the race, having passed more than 300 bills during her 15-year tenure in the General Assembly, expanding access to Medicaid and reproductive health in addition to passing a Tenants Bill of Rights.

McClellan shows up and fights for us in a way that no other gubernatorial candidate has ever done. The way she leads and centers people is a direct translation into what we will see as governor.

Over the last decade, we have ushered in sweeping change such as restoring the civil rights of over 250,000 formerly incarcerated people, expanding Medicaid for nearly 400,000 Virginians, increasing police transparency and accountability, and showing the world that Virginia can be a welcoming place for immigrants.

We’re seeing this significant progress because Virginia voters elected new state legislators that more accurately reflect the diversity of the Commonwealth, and those representatives are successfully advocating for people that historically have been left behind. 

After this year’s General Assembly, Virginia made national headlines for all of the “first in the South” progress being made, including a Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights, the abolition of the death penalty, and a comprehensive state Voting Rights Act that expands access to the ballot box —all legislation sponsored by McClellan in the Senate during session. 

It’s not a coincidence the most progressive legislative victories in Virginia have been led by women of color. 

Virginians need more elected officials who live and understand the intersections of communities of color, women and other marginalized groups. It is at those intersections that they can carry our experiences into the rooms where decisions are being made. And voters are responding positively to Democratic policies that McClellan is championing.

A Wason Center poll shows that Virginia voters want greater access to health care, a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants and wage equity for workers. An overwhelming 82% of Virginia voters showed the greatest support for renewable energy investments, an issue where McClellan has already led the passage of the Virginia Clean Economy Act — making Virginia again the first Southern state with a 100% Clean Energy Standard.

Time and again Black women and women of color in Virginia and beyond have organized our communities to elect candidates who reflect our values. We only have to look to Georgia as a case study of the organizing power that women of color bring to elections. Right now, Black, Asian, Latino/x and Indigenous women are organizing to elect Jennifer McClellan as governor. She inspires and energizes voters, something that’s needed to win in November and maintain a Democratic majority.

We need leaders who look like us, have a record of winning for our communities and have the courage to create fundamentally deep policy changes to turn the tide in the commonwealth and set the stage nationally. That’s why our organizations are working to elect Senator McClellan as the country’s first Black woman governor.

The work towards building a Virginia that works for all of us lies with us. You can help make that happen by voting for Jennifer McClellan in the Democratic Primary.

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By vascope