Virginia State Delegate Mark Levine (D-Arlington) announced last Monday that he was officially running for lieutenant governor and joining the crowded contest.
Levine, 54, is the 12th contender to enter into the race so far and, if elected, he would become Virginia’s first openly gay statewide elected official.
“I want to transform the lieutenant governor position to be one that helps connect the government to the people,” Levine said in an interview with The Virginia Star. “I have pledged that I will visit every one of Virginia’s 133 counties and cities during my four years as lieutenant governor, and that is not just some pledge. I want to sit down with folks all over the Commonwealth, from Galax to Petersburg to Norfolk to Northern Virginia, and really talk to people about what we can do to make their lives better.”
When comparing the lieutenant governor with the other two statewide positions of attorney general and governor, Levine admits there are not many responsibilities for the job under the constitution – only presiding over the Senate and taking over if something happens to the governor – but has plans to expand the role.
“I would make the [lieutenant governor position] a full-time job,” Levine said. “Be kind of the people’s advocate, someone who will go around listening to folks and then bring that back to the governor and the General Assembly, and help us move forward and bring us together because there should be no disconnect between the government and the people.”
Levine also hopes to be an especially active lieutenant governor. One that will always work with the governor and have a legislative agenda in the Senate every year, he said.
Due to that disconnect between politicians and the citizenry, Levine believes he is the perfect person for the job based on past actions and willingness to listen to the struggles of Virginians.
Examples of those efforts include co-founding the transparency caucus, which argued for live streaming sessions and archiving committee meetings, and hosting monthly meet-ups with constituents that have continued online through the COVID pandemic.
Levine said he wanted to hear from the people to help form his list of priorities, but promised to keep fighting for things like access to job opportunities, healthcare, paid family medical leave and sick leave, and both criminal justice reform or racial justice.
Specifically, it is Levine fight for the voiceless and against injustice that matters most to him.
And that is perfectly exemplified by Levine’s 10-year effort to get justice for his sister who was killed by her husband in 1996 that involved getting a Tennessee law on parental rights and custody changed, and eventually ended with a 56-year sentence.
Born and raised in Nashville and then educated at Harvard University and Yale Law School, Levine has served in the House of Delegates since 2016.
If Levine does not secure the Democratic primary this summer, he intends to run for his House seat again, which is possible this year because of redistricting combining with the four-year terms of statewide positions, he told The Star.
Other Democrats vying for the party nomination are Del. Sam Rasoul (D-Roanoke), Del. Elizabeth Guzman (D-Prince William), Del. Hala Ayala (D-Prince William), former Democratic Party of Virginia Chairman Paul Goldman, Norfolk City Council member Andria McClellan, lobbyist Xavier Warren as well as former NAACP President Sean Perryman.
The Republican candidates are Del. Glenn Davis (R-Virginia Beach), former Delegate Tim Hugo, veteran Lance Allen and lobbyist Puneet Ahluwalia. Loudoun County Sheriff Mike Chapman has been rumored to be entering the race.
– – –