RICHMOND — Democrat Justin Fairfax, a former federal prosecutor and 2013 attorney general candidate, is running for lieutenant governor.
He is the first Democrat to officially jump into the statewide contest, while Republicans already have a crowded field including Sen. Bryce Reeves (R-Spotsylvania), Sen. Jill Vogel (R-Fauquier) and Del. Glenn Davis (R-Virginia Beach).
The candidacy of Fairfax, 37, an African American, would inject diversity and an energetic style into a Democratic ticket that includes the comparatively low-key Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam and Attorney General Mark Herring.
“I am passionate about creating and protecting economic security and opportunity for all Virginians,” Fairfax said in a statement. “As a former federal prosecutor, I know just how fragile security and stability for hard-working families can be.”
Del. Eileen Filler-Corn (D-Fairfax) and longtime federal prosecutor Gene Rossi have each said they are considering running for lieutenant governor as Democrats. Fairfax, over the weekend, filed the paperwork to run, according to the Virginia Public Access Project.
Virginia Republicans jumped on Fairfax’s announcement as proof state Democrats have moved further to the left than the electorate.
“The 2017 Democrat primary is going to feature views on policy more consistent with the City of San Francisco than with the Commonwealth of Virginia,” state GOP chairman John Whitbeck said in a statement. “When Justin Fairfax ran for Attorney General he was defeated by the most extreme left politician in Virginia’s history. We expect him to run a Bernie Sanders-like campaign even further to the left to ensure he doesn’t lose this time.”
In Virginia, the job is technically a part-time post with responsibility for overseeing the state Senate and breaking tie votes — a task that can help some officeholders build a statewide profile and name recognition.
As co-owner of a dental practice with his dentist wife in Fairfax County and a father of two, Fairfax said he would work to strengthen the state economy.
“As lieutenant governor, I will fight for Virginia’s families and make sure every child across the commonwealth has the same opportunities I had to succeed,” he said.
Fairfax was co-chair of U.S. Sen. Mark Warner’s 2014 reelection and is part of an effort to increase diversity on the bench in Northern Virginia. He graduated from Duke University and Columbia Law School.