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Black Leaders in Virginia Senate Endorse Stoney for Governor

Ten current and former members of the General Assembly, including three Black leaders in the Senate, are endorsing Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney in his bid for the Democratic nomination for governor in 2025.

Senate President Pro-Tempore Louise Lucas, D-Portsmouth, who is about to become chair of the powerful Senate budget committee, and Sen. Mamie Locke, D-Hampton, chair of the Senate Democratic Caucus, announced their endorsements Tuesday morning, along with Sen. Lamont Bagby, D-Henrico, chair of the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus.

Their endorsements came a day after Stoney launched his campaign for governor, which will pit him against Rep. Abigail Spanberger, D-7th, in the Democratic primary in 2025. Whoever wins will face a Republican opponent in the general election that is likely to be either Lt. Gov. Winsome Earle-Sears or Attorney General Jason Miyares.

If elected, Stoney would be the second Black governor of Virginia, following Doug Wilder, who became the nation’s first elected Black governor in 1990. (There have been five African American governors in U.S. history — P.B.S. Pinchback of Louisiana, Wilder, David Paterson of New York, Deval Patrick of Massachusetts and Wes Moore, Maryland’s current governor.)

“As the youngest elected mayor of Richmond, Mayor Stoney is no stranger to rolling up his sleeves, taking on tough challenges and getting things done for his residents,” Locke said in a statement released by his campaign. “After seven years of watching him lead Richmond from being the Capital of the Confederacy to the ‘Capital of Compassion,’ I know he is the right choice to serve as the next governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia.”

Stoney is particularly close to Bagby, whom he supported in a brief congressional bid to succeed Rep. Donald McEachin, D-4th, after his sudden death just over a year ago. Bagby, then a member of the House of Delegates, withdrew from the race and threw his support behind then-Sen. Jennifer McClellan, D-4th, who took office in early March after winning a special election in February.

The mayor also received endorsements from four current or former Richmond-area legislators — Del. Delores McQuinn, D-Richmond; Del. Jeff Bourne, D-Richmond, who chose not to run for re-election this year; and two newly elected delegates, former Richmond City Councilman Michael Jones and Destiny Bolling, who will fill Bagby’s former House seat in Henrico.

Del. Cliff Hayes, D-Chesapeake, was the eighth member of the Black Caucus to endorse Stoney on Tuesday. The caucus will have at least 30 members when the new General Assembly convenes on Jan. 10, with one other potential member, Kimberly Pope-Adams, still awaiting the outcome of a recount in her narrow election loss to Del. Kim Taylor, R-Dinwiddie.

Regarding Stoney’s support from members of the Black Caucus, Bagby said, “I imagine that list will grow.”

Rounding out the endorsements are Sen. Creigh Deeds, D-Charlottesville, and former House Majority Leader Dick Cranwell, D-Roanoke County, who also served for five years as chairman of the Democratic Party of Virginia.

“I’ve known him for a long time,” said Deeds, who first met Stoney when, as president of the James Madison University student government, Stoney visited the senator’s General Assembly office more than 20 years ago.

Stoney worked as a “call-in manager” who helped Deeds contact potential political donors in his unsuccessful 2005 race for attorney general, and served as political director in the senator’s unsuccessful campaign for governor in 2009. (Deeds lost the 2005 and 2009 contests to Republican Bob McDonnell.)

“He has been there for just about every one of my tough days,” Deeds said Tuesday. “I know him, I know his heart. I know he has leadership in him.”

Cranwell said Stoney served as executive director of the party when he was chairman. He called the mayor “an exceptionally gifted administrator” and added, “That’s what the office (of governor) entails, being a good administrator, and Levar fills that bill.”

Lucas already had publicly signaled her support even before Stoney announced his candidacy. Last week, she posted a photo of herself and the mayor on social media, calling him “our next governor.”

Stoney’s endorsements are a response to a barrage of endorsements that Spanberger released after announcing on Nov. 13 that she is seeking to become the first woman elected as Virginia governor. Her endorsements include former Gov. Ralph Northam, six current and former Virginia congressional representatives, 17 current, former or pending members of the General Assembly and a number of local elected officials.

Source: Richmond Times Dispatch