Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy will formally kick off her bid for Virginia governor Wednesday, becoming the first Democrat to take that step ahead of the 2021 election.

Carroll Foy plans a purely digital launch — airing a campaign video — because of the coronavirus pandemic. The crisis delayed her announcement by two months but also brought new salience to issues she plans to champion in her campaign.

“I never imagined that I’d be running for governor in the midst of a global pandemic, but covid-19 has exposed what was already beneath the surface — that there are families who can’t earn a decent paycheck, afford their medical bills or just get ahead,” she said in an interview last week. “And while many Virginians are finally being called what they’ve always been — essential — when they look at their paycheck, they [find out] that they’re actually expendable. I’ve been fighting for these groups and organizations, and for the families and workers since day one.”

Carroll Foy (Prince William) is expected to face a large field of rivals for the Democratic nomination, to be decided in a primary about a year from now. Declared and potential candidates include former governor Terry McAuliffe, Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, Attorney General Mark R. Herring, state Sen. Jennifer L. McClellan (Richmond) and Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney.

Gov. Ralph Northam (D) cannot run next year because Virginia prohibits its governors from serving back-to-back terms.

Among Republicans, who have not won a statewide race here since 2009, state Sen. Amanda F. Chase (Chesterfield) is the lone declared candidate. She announced her bid at the Capitol in February. Other potential GOP contenders include Pete Snyder, a Northern Virginia technology entrepreneur, and former state Sen. Charles “Bill” Carrico, a retired state trooper from Grayson County, in the state’s far southwest.

A defense lawyer who first ran for office while pregnant with twins, Carroll Foy has been one of the most prominent members of the House’s Class of 2017 — 15 Democrats who unseated GOP incumbents and nearly flipped the chamber blue. Democrats won control of the House in elections two years later.

The chief sponsor of a House bill to ratify the federal Equal Rights Amendment, Carroll Foy has been outspoken on issues of gender, criminal justice reform, workers and the environment.

Carroll Foy was raised by her grandmother in Petersburg and was among the first group of women to graduate from the Virginia Military Institute. She met her husband, a fellow VMI cadet, on her second day on campus.

“He spotted me and my bald head,” she said with a laugh, referring to the head-shaving that was part of her introduction to the military school.

She says her biography is part of what makes her “the leader who’s right for this moment.”

“I’m a working mom with 2-year-old twins, with two jobs, a second mortgage called child care . . . who understands what it feels like to drown in student loan debt,” she said. “I’m never gonna back down or take no for an answer.”

As governor, she said she would advocate for workers, promote more career technical education and affordable housing, boost teacher pay, provide broadband across the commonwealth, address the opioid epidemic, reduce health-care premiums and prescription drug costs, and attract new businesses to the commonwealth.

Carroll Foy scuttled her original plans to announce her campaign right after the General Assembly adjourned in March, as Northam declared a state of emergency due to coronavirus outbreaks. She filed her paperwork for candidacy in April with no fanfare.

She has used the crisis as reason to take to Twitter, sometimes urging Northam to take “bolder” action.

“I’ve called for paid sick days, family leave, PPE [personal protective equipment] for bus drivers, grocery workers, increasing wages, vote by mail,” she said. “My ultimate job is to make sure everyone has the opportunity to thrive — not just the 1 percent.”