Politics Northam backs primary challenger in Virginia attorney general's race
Virginia's off-year elections could pose key test for both parties
A 16-year political shift has transformed the Commonwealth of Virginia from a solidly red state to a blue one. © Zach Gibson/Getty Images The Virginia State Capitol is pictured on April 16, 2020 in Richmond, Virginia. Democrats in the state now control all levers of power -- the Governor's mansion, and both chambers of the state legislature -- for the first time in a generation. And they are leading in an unapologetically progressive direction. The story of Virginia politics in 2021 is a tale of two political parties.
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) on Thursday endorsed Jay Jones in the state's attorney general race, snubbing Democratic incumbent Mark Herring, who is seeking a third term.
In backing Jones, a state delegate from Norfolk who's serving out his second term, Northam said he is hoping to elevate a "new generation of leaders" that represent "the diversity" of Virginia.
"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," Northam said. "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."
Leap Year Babies! Celebrities Who Were Born on February 29
February 29 only falls on the calendar once every four years or so, giving the people who are born on the bonus day an excuse to party harder than regular ol’ folk. When it’s not a leap year, most leaplings (yes, that’s a thing) choose to celebrate on either February 28 or March 1, while others seize the opportunity to go all out on both days. Believe it or not, dozens of celebrities and public figures made their arrivals into the world on leap days, dating as far back as Pope Paul III in 1468 and as recently as NBA player Tyrese Haliburton in 2000. As one of the most well-known stars born on February 29, Ja Rule cracked a joke about his age when he turned the big 4-0 in 2016 during the launch of his Las Vegas show. “My @foxtailatsls residency kick [sic] off crazy wit [sic] my 10th bday party lol,” he quipped via Instagram at the time. The “Put It on Me” rapper celebrated with a three-tier cake and a performance alongside music producer Irv Gotti, who told the crowd that Ja Rule (real name Jeffrey Bruce Atkins) was “actually 10 years old because he was born on a leap year.” Tony Robbins upped the ante four years later for his 60th birthday, throwing a massive party and benefit concert at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles. He donated 100 percent of the $18 million that the event raised to Operation Underground Railroad, a nonprofit organization that aims to eradicate child sex trafficking.
The endorsement is Northam's first in this year's statewide races that include contests for attorney general, lieutenant governor and governor. Northam, who was elected to the governor's mansion in 2017, is barred from running again due to term limits.
In a statement, Jones said that he was "humbled" to receive Northam's backing, calling him "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," Jones said. "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."
Herring had once floated a 2021 bid for governor before ultimately deciding to seek a third term as attorney general.
Despite working together for years, Northam and Herring have never appeared to be particularly close. Herring was one of the first state officials to call for Northam's resignation in 2019 after a photo from the governor's 1984 medical school yearbook page surfaced showing a person in blackface.
Herring later admitted to wearing blackface himself while he was a student at the University of Virginia in the 1980s.
Virginia Democrats will hold their primary on June 8. If Jones were to win the general election in November, he would become the commonwealth's first Black attorney general.
Terry McAuliffe vies for four more years in a changed Democratic environment .
Terry McAuliffe has a question to answer: Why again? © Bob Brown/Richmond Times-Dispatch/AP Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, left, announces that he is running for the Democratic nomination for governor during a press conference in Richmond, Virginia, on December 9, 2020. The former governor of Virginia, four years removed from the end of his first term, is vying for another shot at leading the commonwealth, running as the closest thing to an incumbent in a place that bars governors from serving successive terms.