Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy, D-Prince William, plans to run for governor next year.
Carroll Foy, 38, filed paperwork last week with the Virginia Department of Elections to register a gubernatorial campaign committee, confirming speculation that the two-term delegate is seeking statewide office.
If elected, Carroll Foy, an attorney, would be the first female governor in Virginia and the first black female governor in the U.S.
Carroll Foy has not officially launched her campaign and it's unclear when that will happen as lawmakers deal with fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.
"The delegate is focused on the state’s response to the pandemic and helping her constituents manage this crisis," said Josh Crandell, Carroll Foy's chief of staff, in a statement.
Carroll Foy is among a group of lawmakers to ask the Department of Elections to call for a vote-by-mail system in Virginia come November. She has called for a special session so the legislature can pass a paid sick leave policy that died at the end of the session that adjourned last month.
In a letter to Gov. Ralph Northam on Wednesday, Carroll Foy asked the governor to amend the state budget to give 14 paid sick days for full-time employees in the public and private sectors.
"While I acknowledge that an amendment to the budget to pass paid sick day legislation is unconventional, it is important to explore creative, innovative mechanisms to protect Virginians in this unprecedented time," she wrote. "We must consider every opportunity to meet the needs of Virginians."
The Virginia Mercury first reported the news that Carroll Foy had filed the paperwork.
Carroll Foy, a Petersburg native and one of the first women to graduate from the Virginia Military Institute, was first elected in 2017, part of a blue wave that trimmed the Republican majority in the House of Delegates from a 66-34 stronghold to a 51-49 edge. She easily won reelection in 2019 with 61% of the vote.
During this legislative session, with Democrats in power, Carroll Foy was the chief patron on ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment, a women's rights measure that passed the General Assembly after years of roadblocks. Virginia's passage made the state the 38th to approve the ERA, meaning it could be added to the U.S. Constitution depending on the outcome of a court battle.
“Passage of the Equal Rights Amendment today is a result of women coming together over decades, refusing to suffer in silence as we are discriminated against, paid less, and subjected to gender based violence," Carroll Foy said when the legislature approved the ERA in January.
Virginia is the only state that bars its governors from serving consecutive terms.
While she is seeking to become the first female governor and just the second woman elected to statewide office in Virginia (Mary Sue Terry served as the state's attorney general from 1986-1993), she isn't alone.
Sen. Jennifer McClellan, D-Richmond, said in March that she is “laying the groundwork” for a campaign for governor. McClellan was the chief patron of the ERA on the Senate side of the legislature.
Sen. Amanda Chase, R-Chesterfield, announced in February that she is running for the role of Virginia's chief executive.
Other potential Democratic candidates to fill the post include Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, Attorney General Mark Herring and former Gov. Terry McAuliffe.