Virginia, Meet Your Badass Next Governor, Jennifer Carroll Foy
Jennifer Carroll Foy just became Virginia's next governor. True, she has to win next year's Democratic primary and then beat some ragamuffin Republican in the general election, but that's all a formality. Foy declared her candidacy Wednesday in a launch video so moving they've already cast Kerry Washington in the movie.
When it comes to what's best for working families, we don’t have to accept “no” for an answer — we can have afforda… https://t.co/TMVEyjw8Nj— Jennifer Carroll Foy (@Jennifer Carroll Foy)1590589157.0
Foy grew up in Petersburg, which is home to Pocahontas Island, one of the earliest free black settlements in Virginia. Her hometown has been “neglected and ignored for years with one of the highest child poverty rates and the highest teen pregnancy rate" in Virginia. Petersburg also has the fewest number of accredited schools in the commonwealth. Foy ruefully notes that “girls from Petersburg aren't supposed to be successful." She has spent her life proving that theory wrong. Foy received a full scholarship to the Virginia Military Institute (she was in the third class of women cadets ever to attend). She went on to earn her Master's from Virginia State University and her law degree from the Thomas Jefferson School of Law in California. She was a litigator in Los Angeles and later a criminal defense attorney in Virginia.
So, in 2017, when Foy ran for the Second District seat in the Virginia House of Delegates, she wasn't going to take “no" for an answer.
FOY: People told me “no" when I decided to run ... They told me “no" to my face. “We have our candidate. You would never win. You are a joke." But when they found out I was pregnant, not with one but with two babies, they said, “Definitely, no, you need to have a seat." And I knocked on thousands of doors, with morning sickness and swollen ankles.
Foy defeated Joshua King by just 12 votes in the Democratic primary. The new mother everyone dismissed crushed Republican Mike Makee in the general election by almost 30 points.
Foy was chief sponsor of the Equal Rights Amendment, which passed in the Virginia House this January. She's advocated strongly for worker protection and criminal justice reform legislation. She's also proposed bills that support students' religious and gender expression in public schools. She's a hardcore progressive -- in the South! -- who believes in "being more bold in what we get done here in Virginia, especially dealing with everyday, kitchen table issues." The COVID-19 outbreak has exposed the fault lines in our economy and the vast chasm between the haves and have nots, and Foy is all the more determined to fight for increasing the minimum wage, paid sick days, and paid family medical leave. And she won't take “no" for an answer.
FOY: In order for there to be a trail, there has to be someone who is willing to blaze it. There has to be someone willing to set it on fire. We are still being told “no." “No" to affordable health care, “no" to criminal justice reform, “no" to a clean and safe environment, “no" to common-sense gun safety legislation ... “No" is not serving us.
Virginia doesn't permit governors to serve consecutive terms. However, former governor Terry McAuliffe could challenge Foy for the nomination. State Senator Jennifer McClellan, who had to explain to assholes how racism works, and Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney have also expressed interest in running, as well as Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax.
The only declared Republican candidate so far is state Senator Amanda Chase, who is a bowl of generic corn flakes topped with spoiled milk. If elected, Foy would be the first woman governor of Virginia and the first black woman governor anywhere. Douglas Wilder was the state's first black governor and Ralph Northam is the first blackface governor, which is less impressive.
I'm looking forward to seeing Foy dance the running man on the spirit of the Confederacy.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes reviews for the A.V. Club and make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."