Today, we’re announcing the seven races we’re fundraising for in the 2017 Virginia House of Delegates elections.
All our candidates are 35-ish (or younger) and all are running for the first or second time — they’re all rooted in their communities and are already knocking doors, making calls, and connecting with voters to advocate for progressive values. These seven folks are the exact kind of fresh, new leadership Virginians deserve.
We’re particularly excited about supporting candidates in VA-28, VA-58, and VA-72, three districts that, more often than not, Democrats have let go uncontested over the last decade. We’re refusing to let past be prologue here.
Our candidates may be facing higher odds because Democrats haven’t been actively organizing on the local level in these places. And that’s true in districts across the country — yesterday, a story came out that 42% of the state legislative races in 2016 were uncontested. What a bunch of utter garbage. Voters deserve a choice when they show up to cast their ballots — and it’s on us to field candidates in as many races as possible, whether or not they seem like long-shots.
So we’re taking a risk. We’re supporting candidates who’ve shown they’re ready to stop complaining and do something.
With that, meet our candidates…
Jennifer Carroll Foy, VA-2
Jennifer Carroll Foy is a public defender born and raised in Petersburg, VA. She was one of the first women to graduate from the Virginia Military Institute, and after college, worked as a lawyer then as a magistrate. She’d devoted her life’s work to foster and orphan children. Jennifer won her primary by merely 14 votes.
VA-2 is considered a swing district — a Democratic delegate unseated incumbent Mark Dudenhefer in 2013 after President Obama won the district by 58% in 2012; Dudenhefer won it back in 2015 by barely 100 votes.
Chris Hurst, VA-12
Chris is a former broadcast journalist and anchor for WDBJ7 (CBS) in Roanoke, Virginia. The on-air murder of his late-girlfriend, fellow journalist Alison Parker, has motivated Chris to run for public office and fight for families in Southwest Virginia. As Delegate, he vows to give a voice to the voiceless, demand support for public education and protect those at-risk to violence and abuse.
Chris will be up against Republican Joseph Yost — flipping this seat matters for winning back the Virginia legislature.
Danica Roem, VA-13
Danica Roem is 32 years old — this is her first time running for office. If she wins the general election this November, she’ll be the first transgender member of the House of Delegates.
Her opponent is Bob Marshall, 73, a 13-term incumbent who authored a “bathroom bill” during the last legislative session.
Danica had more than 80 volunteers knocking doors with her — she built a campaign from the ground up. She campaigned on LGBT equality, yes, but also on issues local to her community: On fixing Route 28 to reduce traffic congestion, extending the Virginia Railway Express commuter trains to bolster the area’s jobs, and reducing school overcrowding.
Danica’s running in one of the districts that Hillary Clinton won in 2016 but that is currently held by a Republican in the Virginia House.
Joshua Cole, VA-28
Joshua Cole is motivated by the convictions of his faith and his civic duty to be a uniting force for a divided nation. Joshua will be a strong advocate for public education, transportation, health care, criminal justice reform, environmental protection, and the rights of the LGBTQ community. Joshua would be the first African American to represent the 28th District.
VA-28 is the home district of VA House Speaker Bill Howell, who has represented the area since 1992. He has run uncontested for nearly every election since he got into office. Speaker Howell is retiring, so this is an open seat.
Donte Tanner, VA-40
Donte Tanner is an Air Force Veteran, small business owner, husband and father. Donte, who was taught the importance of service from his parents, is running because he wants to continue serving his country and carry on the Air Force Academy’s tradition of putting “Service Before Self” by fighting for Virginia families.
Donte is challenging Republican Tim Hugo, who is the House of Delegates’ majority caucus chairman.
Kellen Squire, VA-58
Kellen Squire is an emergency department nurse from Barboursville, Virginia, running for the Virginia House of Delegates in the 58th District, the seat once held by Thomas Jefferson. He hopes to help build a new generation of leaders to take back the torch of civic engagement and restore the ideals our country was founded on. He is ready to stand up for working Virginians, to fight tirelessly for families, and to ensure that tomorrow brings a promising and prosperous future for his district.
Kellen’s race in particular is a fun one: He’s running against Robert Bell, who’s gone uncontested the last two cycles. Rob Bell is as conservative as they come.
Schuyler VanValkenburg, VA-72
Schuyler VanValkenburg is a public school teacher who is running for Delegate to fight for strong public schools, to create 21st Century jobs, and to level the playing field for all citizens. Schuyler is raising his three children in the Lakeside neighborhood in Henrico County, and he teaches government and history at Glen Allen High School.
Schuyler’s running for an open seat — the Republican who’s retiring, Jimmie Massie, has been uncontested the last three cycles.