A part-time job with limited powers, the lieutenant governorship is highly sought after as a potential path to the Executive Mansion.
“Right now, we can’t afford to be divided,” McClellan says in a campaign video that touts her support for giving every family access to high-speed Internet, quality education, health care and good-paying jobs. “We’re a commonwealth that wins by addition, not by subtraction.”
In an interview ahead of her announcement, McClellan also stressed the need to address the effects of climate change — something she said is already being felt not just in her flood-prone coastal city, but across the state.
“It’s not just sea-level rise,” she said. “The rain bombs that are the result of climate change are also creating havoc.”
Other Democrats competing for the party’s nomination next summer are: Del. Hala S. Ayala (Prince William), former Virginia Democratic Party chairman Paul Goldman, Del. Elizabeth R. Guzman (Prince William), Fairfax County NAACP President Sean Perryman, Del. Sam Rasoul (Roanoke) and Arlington County businessman Xavier Warren.
Babur Lateef, chair of the Prince William County School Board, had publicly considered seeking the nomination but announced about two weeks ago that he would take a pass, focusing instead on ways to safely reopen schools.
The Republican field includes: Fairfax County business consultant Puneet Ahluwalia; Lance Allen, a national security company executive who lives in Fauquier County; Del. Glenn R. Davis Jr. (Virginia Beach); and former delegate Timothy D. Hugo (Fairfax).
A former entrepreneur married to a Norfolk Southern senior executive, McClellan is considered a formidable fundraiser with the ability to substantially bankroll her campaign. Between July and September, she raised $130,000 — nearly twice as much as the next-highest contender — through a political action committee she created for what was then her potential campaign.
She was the PAC’s biggest donor, with a $19,010 contribution. She also was the top donor to her 2016 and 2020 council campaigns, to which she gave a combined $51,274, and to her unsuccessful state Senate bid in 2013, to which she gave $25,015. Her late father-in-law, James W. McClellan, who died in 2016 and was also a Norfolk Southern executive, donated $7,500 to her first council race and $10,000 to her Senate campaign.
The last Virginian to leap directly from local government to the lieutenant governorship was now-Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), who won the office in 2001 while serving as mayor of Richmond. But McClellan represents about 125,000 citizens in a “superward” that covers about half of Norfolk — a considerably larger constituency than the state delegates in the race, who each represent about 80,000 people.