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As Primary Season Approaches, Democratic Lt. Gov. Candidates Try to Chart Larger Role

The spring campaign season is ramping up, and Democrats have a bumper crop of candidates hoping to be Lieutenant Governor.

The job of Lieutenant Governor is often overlooked, but it probably has a bigger role now than it's had in years because the Senate is so closely split and the lieutenant governor gets to break tie votes in a chamber where much of the Democratic agenda fails to move forward. The crop of Democratic candidates this year says they'll work to end qualified immunity, limit campaign cash from corporations and ban private prisons.

During a debate Thursday night, candidate Sean Perryman said voters need to know the next lieutenant governor will fight for a progressive agenda.  "And that's what you need from a lieutenant governor because they're not going to be able to introduce legislation. They're going to have to persuade their colleagues and they're going to have to educate the public. That's how they're going to make things happen."

The issues driving the campaign are the same ones that are often at the center of debates in the Senate, so the next Lieutenant Governor might actually have a chance to vote for paid sick days or banning personal use of campaign contributions.

Candidate Andria McClellan said voters should consider the contrast with Republicans.  "While Democrats are building an inclusive new Virginia majority with this primary, the GOP is in its fourth month arguing about which party insiders will be granted permission to vote."

The primary is less than three months away in early June.

The other candidates are: Sam Rasoul, Hala Ayala, Elizabeth Guzman, Mark Levine, Paul Goldman and Xavier Warren.

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.