Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe on Wednesday launched his campaign for his old job back in a live streamed event, promising to push bold education and criminal justice reforms.
McAuliffe was an LGBTQ ally in his first term from 2014-2018. During that time he oversaw the extension of marriage rights for same-sex couples, signed executive orders banning anti-LGBTQ discrimination and vetoed religious freedom bills.
Wednesday’s event took place in front of a Richmond elementary school that McAuliffe used as a motif to discuss his plans to boost the state’s education system and address inequities in schools. His plan includes a $2 billion annual investment into Virginia’s education infrastructure to raise teacher pay and ensure that every student has access to the Internet.
“To build a strong post-COVID economy, the best workforce in the world and to create a clear path for the middle class, we need to make an unprecedented investment in education,” he said. “The time is now to ensure a world class education for every single Virginia child. Our future and our children cannot wait.”
Democrat Ralph Northam, who succeeded McAuliffe in 2018, and a newly Democratic General Assembly have enacted dozens of progressive laws that include the inclusion of sexual orientation and gender identity to the state’s nondiscrimination law. In Virginia, governors are not legally allowed to serve consecutive terms but can come back to be re-elected for a second nonconsecutive term. Only two governors since 1830 have achieved this.
McAuliffe is stepping into an already crowded Democratic primary field with Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, state Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy and state Sen. Jennifer McClellan. All three are Black, and Foy and McClellan are women.
Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney joined McAuliffe during his announcement and spoke about how the ongoing coronavirus pandemic requires experienced leadership.
“We need someone with the experience to guide us through the crisis we are in and to allow all of us, no matter the color of your skin, your gender, who you pray to, or who you love, to live out our God given talents in this great state,” he said.
In the midst of the pandemic, McAuliffe said it was vital to give Virginians the support they need, including healthcare, equitable schooling and affordable housing.
“This pandemic has given us big tremendous challenges but, folks, it’s also given us a big opportunity and it’s up to us to make it count,” he said. “I am running for governor again to think big and to be bold and take the commonwealth of Virginia to the next level and lift up all Virginians.”