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Endorsement eye-raiser: Gov. Northam backing Jay Jones for attorney general

Jay Jones
Jay Jones

Gov. Ralph Northam announced Thursday that he is endorsing Norfolk Del. Jay Jones for the Democratic Party nomination for attorney general, giving Jones the nod in his intraparty challenge to two-term Attorney General Mark Herring.

“We have made lasting progressive change over the last four years from Medicaid expansion to abolishing the death penalty to criminal justice reform, but it is time for a new generation of leaders to take the reins,” Northam said.

“Jay Jones has stood with me every step of the way in our journey to make Virginia a more just and equitable place to live. He has been my partner as we have worked to change our Commonwealth. He also understands the deep scars of racism and will represent the diversity of our Commonwealth. That is why I’m honored to endorse him in his race for attorney general,” Northam said.

This is a bit of a stunner. Herring had been looked at as a possible top contender for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination before the odd events of the first couple weeks of February in 2019 that saw Northam, Herring and Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax all caught up in scandals.

It started with photos of Northam in blackface emerging on a conservative blog, leading to calls from far and wide, most within Democratic circles, for him to resign.

A pair of sexual assault allegations against Fairfax were next in line, and then we had Herring admitting to appearing in blackface at a college party.

Fairfax is running in a crowded field for the Democratic Party gubernatorial nomination. Herring decided in September to focus on a third term in the AG’s office.

Both have been rolling out endorsement announcements in recent weeks, but the endorsement of the sitting governor is clearly the highest-profile endorsement to date.

“I couldn’t be more humbled to receive Gov. Northam’s endorsement in this race,” Jones said. “He leads with conviction and has ushered in a new era of equity, optimism, and prosperity in this Commonwealth for all Virginians, no matter what you look like or where you come from. Simply put, Ralph Northam is the most consequential governor in the history of this Commonwealth.

“I’ve been enormously proud to stand with him every step of the way over the years, and I am excited to carry on the legacy that he and the First Lady are building. I am grateful for his support as we enter this new decade standing shoulder to shoulder to create the Virginia that we can all be proud of,” Jones said.

Story by Chris Graham

augusta free press
augusta free press