In the Democratic gubernatorial primary, we have endorsed former governor Terry McAuliffe, running to reclaim his old job; he holds a commanding lead in the polls.
In the attorney general’s contest, our pick is the eight-year incumbent, Mark R. Herring, whose bold progressive record has been instrumental in reversing the state’s hidebound opposition to abortion rights, same-sex marriage and access to affordable education at state-supported colleges for undocumented students who grow up in the commonwealth. No Virginia attorney general in recent memory has made such a positive difference in the lives of ordinary people.
Mr. Herring, 59, faces a promising young opponent in Del. Jerrauld C. “Jay” Jones, a bright Norfolk attorney who, four years ago, won a House of Delegates seat once held by his father. Mr. Jones is 32 years old, just six years out of law school; credit him with ambition for seeking an office with almost 300 attorneys, more than nearly every law firm in the state.
His campaign is based on what he calls his “lived experience” as a Black man, and his contention that Mr. Herring, who is White, has been too cautious in pressing for criminal justice reforms. In fact, Mr. Herring, facing a GOP-dominated General Assembly for the first six years of his term, could hardly have done more. When Democrats took control of both legislative chambers last year, he quickly asked for, and got, legislation empowering his office to investigate local police departments for systematic civil rights offenses. Few attorneys general nationally have been so ambitious.
In the nominating contest for lieutenant governor — a job that entails presiding over and breaking ties in the state Senate and stepping in if the governor becomes incapacitated — we support Del. Sam Rasoul, the first Muslim to serve in Virginia’s legislature. Elected in 2014 to represent a heavily poor and working-class district in Roanoke, Mr. Rasoul’s somewhat unbending stands have sometimes exasperated fellow Democrats; for instance, he opposed a clean energy bill, arguing it would saddle rate-payers with excessive bills, even though it ended up making Virginia a climate-change leader among the states.
Yet in contrast to several of his rivals, there is no doubt about Mr. Rasoul’s command of complex issues; his skills as an organizer in his district; or his detail-oriented legislative work to strengthen free health clinics, safeguard drinking water and boost aid to struggling families. He also stuck to his support for bipartisan redistricting reform even as other Democrats, eager to redraw the electoral map in their favor, abandoned that position after their party won control of the General Assembly. Mr. Rasoul has guts; with a little more pragmatism he could become a force in Virginia politics.