On Thursday morning, rather than the man he’s served beside for four years, Gov. Ralph Northam endorsed the Democrat looking to halt two-term Attorney General Mark Herring’s reelection campaign, Jay Jones.
In a statement, he formally backed the 31-year-old delegate from Norfolk.
“We have made lasting progressive change over the last four years from Medicaid Expansion to abolishing the death penalty to criminal justice reform, but it is time for a new generation of leaders to take the reins. 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. 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.”Gov. Ralph Northam endorsing Del. Jay Jones
Jones currently represents Virginia’s 89th District, a position that his father, Jerrauld Jones, once had and has fought for justice reform, consumer protections and environmental protections.
Jones comes from a line of Civil Rights heroes and prominent figures with his paternal grandparents being known for helping to integrate Norfolk schools and his grandfather being the first African American member of the Norfolk School Board. He’s also a descendant of enslaved Virginians.
“I couldn’t be more humbled to receive Governor Northam’s endorsement in this race,” said Jones. “He leads with conviction and has ushered in a new era of equity, optimism, and prosperity in this Commonwealth for all Virginians, no matter what you look like or where you come from. Simply put, Ralph Northam is the most consequential governor in the history of this Commonwealth.”
If elected, Jones would be Virginia’s first Black attorney general.
Jones’ opponent, Mark Herring won the 2017 race for attorney general, beating Republican John Donley Adams by 175,850 votes, with 53.3% of all votes cast.
In the election prior, 2013, Herring only defeated his Republican challenger, Mark Dudley Obenshain, by 165 votes.
Back in 2018, Herring said he was planning to run for governor this year, but later decided to not pursue the office.
If Herring does win his reelection bid, he’d be the first three-term attorney general since Abram Staples won in 1937, 1941 and 1945.