Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy Launches Bid for Virginia Governor

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The Northern Virginia delegate who led the charge to get the Equal Rights Amendment ratified this year formally announced her bid for governor Wednesday.

“COVID-19 has exposed what was just beneath the surface, that the status quo just isn’t working,” said Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy, D-2nd District.

The two-term delegate from Prince William County says too many Virginians are still struggling, especially now.

“I can look at every Virginia voter and say, ‘I see you. I see the challenges and obstacles you face because I live it,” she said.

Foy was raised in Petersburg by her grandmother, went on to become one of the first female graduates of Virginia Military Institute, then went to law school and now works for the Arlington public defender’s office. 

“As governor, I will not only focus on our bottom line but on our front line, as well,” Foy said. “That’s why I’ve called for PPEs and masks for all essential workers, paid sick leave and vote by mail.” 

Coronavirus Cases in DC, Maryland and Virginia

COVID-19 cases by population in D.C. and by county in Maryland and Virginia

Source: DC, MD and VA Health Departments
Credit: Anisa Holmes / NBC Washington

In 2017 during her first run for the General Assembly, Foy gave birth to premature twins. She campaigned by day and spent evenings in the neonatal intensive care unit.

In a biographical video released Wednesday, Carroll Foy describes being discouraged from running for her House seat, especially when people learned she was pregnant “not with one but with two babies.”

“They said, ‘Definitely no. You need to have a seat.’ And I knocked on thousands of doors with morning sickness and swollen ankles. And in order for there to be a trail there has to be someone who’s willing to blaze it,” she says in the video that includes shots of her in her hometown of Petersburg, in the House chambers and caring for her twins, now thriving at 2 years old.

Part of a blue wave in 2017 that flipped 15 Republican-held seats, Foy, who lives in Woodbridge, handily defeated a Republican challenger and then won re-election in 2019 with more than 60% of the vote.

In Richmond, Foy pushed for ratification of the ERA, succeeding last session. 

In the wake of the pandemic, Foy said she’ll turn her attention to helping small businesses recover, soliciting ideas from across the commonwealth. 

“They are giving me policy proposals of what businesses need to successfully open their doors and get back to work,” she said. 

Foy said a special legislative session this summer will give her a chance to get push for some of her priorities. 

Foy said she thinks Gov. Ralph Northam has done a “good job” responding to the pandemic but said there’s always room to “be bolder in our response."

As an attorney handling court-appointed cases, Foy said her work has pretty much come grinding to a halt, and she said she and her husband are “barely getting by, like many Virginians.”

If Foy were to win the 2021 contest, she would be Virginia’s first woman governor, the first African-American female governor in the United States and only the second woman ever elected to statewide office in Virginia. The first was Mary Sue Terry, who served as attorney general in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Foy faces what could be a crowded Democratic field that could include former Gov. Terry McAuliffe, Attorney General Mark Herring and Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax among others. 

Republican Sen. Amanda Chase, a populist who is outspoken on gun rights and often clashes with members of her own party, announced her candidacy in February. Republican businessman Pete Snyder has also indicated an interest in running.

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