The 2021 race to become Virginia’s next lieutenant governor is already crowded, with five Democrats and four Republicans launching campaigns for their party’s nomination and several more potential candidates exploring bids.

Last week, both Del. Elizabeth R. Guzman (D-Prince William) and former delegate Timothy D. Hugo (R-Fairfax) announced their candidacies to succeed Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax (D), who is running for governor next year.

Guzman joins Del. Hala S. Ayala (D-Prince William), former Democratic Party chairman Paul Goldman and Arlington County businessman Xavier Warren in the party’s nomination contest next summer. Sean Perryman, who leads Fairfax County’s NAACP chapter, said he plans to join the race later this month.

Hugo, 57, is part of a Republican field that includes Del. Glenn R. Davis Jr. (R-Virginia Beach), Fairfax County business consultant Puneet Ahluwalia and Lance Allen, a national security company executive who lives in Fauquier County.

Virginia’s part-time lieutenant governorship comes with just two duties: presiding over the state Senate and taking over for the governor if he can no longer carry out his duties. But the post is considered a steppingstone to higher office, particularly governor. Gov. Ralph Northam (D), Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) and Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), a former governor, all occupied the lieutenant governor’s seat before advancing in their political careers.

Several of the new Democratic candidates said they want to bring new focus to the lieutenant governor’s job, arguing that there should be more advocacy for core Democratic goals, including workers’ rights, racial equity and environmental justice from the office that is second in line to lead the state should the governor suddenly leave office or become unable to serve.

The Republican candidates said they want to reimpose pragmatic governance in the Democratic-controlled state, arguing that Virginia has veered too far to the left on policies related to law enforcement and the economy.

“We need fighters,” said Guzman, a Democrat who, like Ayala, was first elected in 2017 as part of a historic blue wave in the state that nearly erased the GOP’s 2-to-1 majority in the House of Delegates, setting the stage for Democrats to win full control of the General Assembly two years later. “We need fighters for the working people. We need fighters for people who are struggling right now.

A career social worker and educator, Guzman, 47, touted a law she sponsored earlier this year that allows teachers, firefighters and police officers to collectively bargain with their employers — ending a long-standing law in Virginia that barred public employee unions from negotiating salary and benefits.

Guzman said getting that legislation to Northam’s desk took a lot of work behind the scenes, even among her fellow Democrats, a skill she argued a lieutenant governor must have as the tie-breaking vote on legislation in the Senate.

Goldman, 74, said he brings the experience the Democratic Party needs to advance its agenda at the executive level.

Based in Richmond, he is a veteran of Virginia politics, having worked during the 1970s and ’80s as campaign manager for former governor L. Douglas Wilder (D), the state’s first African American governor since Reconstruction, and for former lieutenant governor Henry Howell (D).

Goldman opposes a state constitutional amendment before voters next month that would transform how political redistricting is done every decade. He also wants to change the state constitution so that it guarantees equal educational opportunities to people of color.

“That’s one reason I want to be lieutenant governor: to raise these kinds of issues,” Goldman said. “This is what an advocate does.”

Ayala, a Department of Homeland Security cybersecurity specialist, has said she wants to be “a bridge builder” during a period when tensions over systemic racism and police brutality run high.

“This is what Virginia families want: someone who understands their experiences and can bring people together to make progress in their day-to-day lives,” Ayala, 47, told The Washington Post when she announced her bid in July.

Warren, an Arlington-based sports agent who is also partner of a lobbying firm that seeks federal grants for nonprofits, said he wants to be an economic development ambassador for Virginia, where thousands of jobs have been lost because of shutdowns during the coronavirus pandemic.

“We have to be able to strengthen our small businesses, so they won’t close, and also protect our workers so they can continue to have money in their pockets to provide for their family,” said Warren, 32, a native of Danville. “But we also need to be able to market and bring new jobs to Virginia.”

Perryman, who is also an attorney focusing on policies related to technology, said he plans to file his candidacy paperwork later this month.

Perryman, 34, said he wants to fight for more broadband Internet access in Virginia and to repeal the state’s “right-to-work” law, which has weakened collective bargaining. He also said he’s not afraid to be a dissenting voice within his party if it means addressing problems affecting people of color, such as the pandemic’s disproportionate impact on African Americans and Latinos in Virginia.

“State government has been all Democratically controlled and everyone has been saying what a great job they’ve been doing,” Perryman said. “Anyone on the ground who has been suffering through this pandemic can say that’s not necessarily the case.”

Babur Lateef, chair of the Prince William County School Board, and Andria McClellan, a Norfolk City Council member, have both said they are seriously considering seeking the Democratic Party nomination for lieutenant governor.

The Republican field so far has been slightly less crowded.

Hugo, who was the third-highest-ranking House member before he lost his seat last year to Del. Dan Helmer (D-Fairfax), said he is running as a pro-business “common-sense conservative.”

He sought to tie Democrats to vandalism that broke out at times in Richmond and elsewhere during protests over police brutality in the summer, arguing that he would bring a more grounded approach to the lieutenant governor’s office.

“I think what we need are some common-sense, pragmatic issues, kitchen table issues — education, transportation, jobs,” said Hugo, who is executive director of Free File Alliance, a group of tax-preparation companies serving lower-income taxpayers. “Those are the things that moms, dads and families talk about when they get home at night. And that’s what I want to focus on.”

Davis, 46, is making his second run for lieutenant governor after he lost a three-way race for the GOP nomination in 2017.

He has said he is focused on “restoring civility” in the Capitol and wants to rebuild the state’s economy.

“This isn’t the time for pointless politics,” Davis said earlier this month in a statement released by his campaign. “We must protect our health and safety, replace lost jobs, and ensure all children across Virginia receive the education they need.”

Ahluwalia, a McLean businessman who emigrated from India, said he is running as a jobs creator who would push to extend Northern Virginia’s economic success to the state’s struggling rural and urban areas, such as parts of Richmond and Hampton Roads.

Ahluwalia, 53, said he’s opposed to some of the pandemic restrictions Northam imposed on businesses.

A Sikh whose wife is Muslim, Ahluwalia said he strongly supports gun rights, citing a 1984 massacre in Delhi when Sikhs were singled out and killed in revenge for the assassination of Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by two Sikh bodyguards.

“Armed minorities are harder to repress,” he said.

Allen, 32, is running on a promise to protect gun rights, oppose abortion rights, support law enforcement, cut taxes and loosen business regulations. The political newcomer is introducing himself to voters as a survivor of an uncommonly rough childhood.

“When I was just a little kid growing up, my mom dealt with alcohol and drug addictions,” he says in a video on his campaign website. “My father was murdered when I was age 6. I remember very vividly at age 8 or 9 having to help my mom steal groceries just to keep food on the table.”

After cycling in and out of foster homes, Allen found stability when he was adopted at 14. He joined the Air Force straight out of high school, and after 10 years of service, went on to build a career based on intelligence policy. He says on the video that he is running to rein in Democrats, who he says have become “reckless with power.”

“Virginia is at a pivotal moment in our history,” he says. “The battle is happening now.”

Correction: This article has been updated to correct the spelling of Norfolk City Council member Andria McClellan’s name.