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The Woman Who Would Be Governor


Jennifer McClellan has it all. The daughter of a Virginia State University professor involved in the civil rights movement, she was valedictorian of her high school class and attending University of Virginia's law school.

Elected to the state's House of Delegates in 2005 (the "Delegates" thing? Virginia is weird; don't ask) McClellan co-sponsored the Virginia Clean Economy Act, which made Virginia the first Southern state to commit to carbon-free power by 2050.

Along with Marcia Price of Newport News, she passed what the The Black Wall Street Times called one of the most progressive voting rights acts ever passed in the South. That's not all. McClellan helped outlaw child marriage in Virginia, and, while women's health is under attack in many states, she supports expanding access to affordable health care and removing barriers to reproductive health care for women.

McClellan has been one of the politicos who's put Virginia ahead of much of the country on key issues. As the federal government hems and haws over legislation that would improve conditions for caregivers, Virginia already has a Domestic Workers Bill of Rights. There's a straight line from the antebellum days of The Help to today's health care aides (and they're usually women) earning low wages for the emotionally taxing job of seeing America's elderly through the last days of their lives.

Here's what McClellan wrote:

Like many Black women across the South, I come from a family of care workers. Nearly every woman on my mothers side of the family— my mother, aunts, grandmother, and great grandmother— cared for white families in the segregated Gulf Coast of Mississippi. Their stories are the story of the American economy: built on the backs of Black women who were undervalued, underprotected, and, for centuries, underpaid. For generations, the economy has left behind the care workforce and families who need care but can’t afford it. And children whose education depends on the zip code they were born in. 

Over the past two years, we’ve made generational progress in Virginia to root out systemic inequities and exclusions that were baked into our systems. I’ve brought my personal experience to drive that generational progress. In honor of the domestic workers in my family and with the help of advocates from Care In Action, I fought to pass the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights to make Virginia the first state in the South to extend to them worker protections by ending Jim Crow-era exclusions to the minimum wage, anti-discrimination laws, workplace health and safety laws, and wage theft protections.

The takeaway: McClellan has a knack for getting things done.

As it happens, McClellan served as head of Terry McAuliffe's transition team when he was elected governor in 2013. Then she ran against him for the Democratic nomination, but didn't make it - this time.

As a side note, she was the first pregnant delegate to serve in the Virginia legislature.


She'll be back.

Jennifer McClellan's campaign ad from last year.

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Down In Virginia ::: Jimmy Reed

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West Virginia ::: Maggie & Terre Roche

Conditional Futures ::: Julia Kent