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As Carroll Foy Resigns, Other Lawmakers Weigh Options for 2021 Campaigning


As the upcoming General Assembly session approaches, lawmakers who are eyeing statewide office are trying to figure out how to juggle the legislature with the campaign trail.

The General Assembly has a half dozen members who are running for some kind of statewide office, although that list is now one fewer. Delegate Jennifer Carroll Foy says she'll resign her seat to focus on her effort to snag the Democratic nomination for governor.

Stephen Farnsworth at the University of Mary Washington says that's one way to build name recognition and campaign contributions during the session, when lawmakers are legally prohibited from taking money.

"It's a big big leap from being known in a portion of a county to being known statewide, and if you don't start your gubernatorial campaign with a single-minded focus until the spring, you're even further behind than you are in January," he explains.

Usually House members are forced to give up their seats anyway because they can't run in two primaries at once, although this year the dynamics are different because of redistricting. Kirk Cox and Lee Carter don't have to give up their seats for the statewide primary in the June primary because the primary for their House seats won't be until August or later.

Quentin Kidd at Christopher Newport University says House members aren't usually facing this kind of decision.

"It isn't super common for members of the General Assembly to drop out of their seats to run for statewide office," Kidd says. "Where you've seen this happen most recently is when an attorney general, for example, wants to run for governor."

Ken Cuccenelli decided to stay on as attorney general rather than resign in 2013. He ended up losing that election to Terry McAuliffe, who is expected to return to Virginia politics in 2021 to run for a second term as governor.  McAuliffe is scheduled to announce his campaign Wednesday morning in Richmond.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria.