June 7, 2011 at 11:04 am EDT | by Phil Reese
Prominent LGBT strategist announces bid for Virginia Assembly seat

The senior strategist for public engagement from the nation’s most prominent African American LGBT organization, the National Black Justice Coalition, announced Sunday that he would be seeking the Virginia Assembly seat opening up in his hometown upon the retirement of independent delegate, Watkins Abbitt. Jasper Hendricks, III, has worked for the National Black Justice Coalition for three years, and has an expansive career in politics stretching back many years, including staff for Congressman Kendrick Meek of Miami as well as serving political director of the Wisconsin Democratic party during the 2006 Governor’s race.

Hendricks, however, has lived in the 59th District his entire life.

“I’m originally from here. I went to school in Appomattox,” he said, “I have been commuting via Amtrak to D.C. three days a week.” He says spends long weekends with his family at home.

Hendricks is very tied into the local community, and even consulted local residents before deciding to run for the retiring delegate’s seat.

“Right now I’m the first Democrat to announce. I’ve heard there are others who are considering it, but taking advice from locals, I was the first person to file.”

When asked about his chances in this sometimes red, sometimes blue district, Hendricks says they are very good, especially since he knows his constituents so well.

“The district is very rural, encompasses Appomattox county of the famous civil war battles. Also Buckingham county and parts of Albemarle county. So its a very rural district.”

The current state delegate of 26 years, Watkins Abbitt, was originally a Democrat, but he switched to independent about fifteen years ago, and now caucuses with Republicans. His father, Watkins Abbitt Sr. is a former member of Congress.

However, Democrats haven’t fared poorly in this rural Virginia district. Both Tim Kaine and President Barack Obama won the district.

“It could be Democratic, Mark Warner won the district by over ten points. Obama lost Appomattox county, but I don’t intend to lose it.”

The district is only about 23% African American, which would make Hendricks the first black candidate in this area to seize the Democratic nomination for this seat.

The Dem candidate is chosen by caucus in late August.

Read the official press release is below.

Jasper Hendricks, III Seeks Democratic Nomination for 59th District VA House of Delegates

Appomattox, VA – Appomattox resident Jasper Hendricks III filed statement of organization today to seek the Democratic nomination for the open 59th district Virginia State House of Delegates seat. The current 59th District Delegate, Watkins Abbitt, has announced his retirement after 26 years as the district’s delegate, which covers all of Appomattox and Buckingham counties and parts of Nelson, Albemarle, and Campbell counties.

A lifelong resident of the 59th District, Jasper attended Appomattox County Elementary and Middle Schools before graduating from Prince Edward County Public Schools. Jasper went on to study political science at Norfolk State University and began his career in public service as an outreach advisor to two democratic presidential campaigns and three Members of Congress. Currently Jasper is a consultant working to develop and implement effective coalition-building and programmatic outreach designed to increase civic engagement.

Jasper is the son of Joyce Hendricks who retired in 2007 from Thomasville Furniture after 30 years of service in their Appomattox plant and the late Jasper Hendricks, Jr who had been employed at Griffin Pipe Industries in Lynchburg for 30 years. Jasper says his campaign will highlight the need to create access and opportunities to jobs, education, and the need for responsible economic development throughout the district.


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