Del. Elizabeth Guzman, D-Prince William, on Monday formally began fundraising for her campaign to become Virginia’s next lieutenant governor, as she vies to become the first woman and first Hispanic to occupy the role.
Guzman filed necessary paperwork with the Virginia Department of Elections to create a campaign committee, which now allows her to fundraise explicitly for her campaign ahead of the 2021 elections.
Guzman will join what already looks to be a crowded field for the Democratic nomination. The list of candidates for lieutenant governor could balloon further as the crowded field for governor tightens.
Guzman, who immigrated to the U.S. from Peru two decades ago, is one of the most progressive voices in the House of Delegates, carving out a role as an advocate for working-class Virginians and organized labor.
Guzman said in an interview that she’s running for lieutenant governor to bring those progressive values to the Democratic-controlled Senate, which tends to be more business-friendly on legislation impacting workers.
In Virginia, the lieutenant governor presides over the Senate and casts tie-breaking votes when lawmakers deadlock, which happens with regularity in a chamber now split 21-19.
Just a few weeks ago, the Senate defeated a bill sponsored by Guzman that would have offered workers paid quarantine leave for absences related to COVID-19. In the past, Guzman has been critical of Democrats in that chamber for “watering down” bills on collective bargaining and the minimum wage, and defeating a measure on paid sick leave.
“We need more progressive voices in the executive [branch]. And working-class people deserve to have a voice in the Senate,” Guzman said. “I will respect each one of the members, but when we’re talking among Democrats, I want to be the voice for the working class.”
Guzman said her views are informed by personal experience: When she immigrated to the U.S. as a single mother, with about $300, she held three jobs to make ends meet.
“When I look back, I still think there are many struggles I had as a low-wage worker that are still the reality of many people,” Guzman said.
“I had to leave my child alone at home because I couldn’t afford care. I still see children stay by themselves on the weekend because the parents have to have two or three jobs to make ends meet. I was paid less as a woman of color. That’s still a problem that we have today.”
Guzman said she is grateful for the opportunity she was offered in the U.S., which enabled her to attend college and obtain two master’s degrees.
“I want to ensure that anyone in this country who is willing to sacrifice and work hard can achieve the American dream,” she said.
Guzman is a social worker and leads the adult services department within the city of Alexandria, overseeing a budget of $20 million. She lives in Dale City with her husband, Carlos; the couple’s four children; and her mother, Gregoria.
Other Democratic candidates who have announced runs for lieutenant governor are Del. Hala Ayala, D-Prince William; Paul Goldman, former chairman of the state Democratic Party; and Xavier Warren, a lobbyist for nonprofits and an NFL player agent.
Democrats exploring campaigns for lieutenant governor are Del. Sam Rasoul, D-Roanoke; Sean Perryman, head of the Fairfax County NAACP; and Norfolk City Council member Andria McClellan.
On the GOP side, Del. Glenn Davis, R-Virginia Beach; former Del. Tim Hugo, R-Fairfax; Northern Virginia business consultant Puneet Ahluwalia; and Air Force veteran Lance Allen of Fauquier County have announced they are seeking their party’s nomination.