Sean Perryman, president of the Fairfax County NAACP, formally announced his Democratic bid for lieutenant governor on Tuesday, calling for more boldly progressive state leadership.
Though “Democrats have won control of the government here in Virginia, we’ve failed to make the bold progress we need,” Perryman, an attorney, planned to say in a virtual announcement to supporters Tuesday evening. “I know because I’ve seen it first hand in my work as a policy advocate and as President of the largest NAACP chapter in Virginia.
“We weren’t able to legalize cannabis and release those who have been wrongfully incarcerated. We weren’t able to get paid sick leave for our workers, or universal PreK for our children. We weren’t even able — in the year 2020 — to block the construction of new fossil fuel infrastructure that will harm Virginia’s natural landscape and marginalized communities.”
Perryman, 34, said some Virginia politicians are comfortable with “business as usual,” but “the status quo will not get us to justice and prosperity for all.”
Perryman was raised in Brooklyn, the son of a father who immigrated from Barbados and a mother who was “a child of segregated South Carolina.” He moved to Manassas as a child and became the first in his family to graduate from college, earning an undergraduate degree from the City University of New York and a law degree from Vanderbilt University.
He says he quit a job at a law firm because it wanted him to represent President Donald Trump in a legal dispute with chef José Andrés, who pulled out of a deal to open a restaurant at Trump’s Washington hotel in 2015 because of Trump’s comments disparaging Mexican immigrants.
Perryman later worked with Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland as an investigator on the U.S. House Oversight Committee. He is now director of social impact policy and counsel at Internet Association, which terms itself “the united voice of the internet economy.”
Perryman, who became president of the Fairfax NAACP in the summer of 2019, says his life experience — growing up in a working class family and later advocating for clients and for social change — has prepared him for the challenge. He says the job of lieutenant governor is about more than breaking ties in the state senate or a stepping stone to higher office. He said he wants to advocate for “real people,” such as restaurant servers, public school teachers and prisoners — all buffeted by COVID-19.
At the Fairfax NAACP Perryman played a key role in the effort to rename Robert E. Lee High School for Rep. John R. Lewis, the civil rights icon who died in July.
Other Democratic candidates who have announced runs for lieutenant governor next year are: Del. Elizabeth Guzman, D-Prince William; Del. Hala Ayala, D-Prince William; Paul Goldman, former chair of the state Democratic Party; and Xavier Warren, a lobbyist for nonprofits and an NFL player agent. Democrats exploring campaigns for lieutenant governor include Del. Sam Rasoul, D-Roanoke; and Norfolk City Councilwoman Andria McClellan.
Candidates seeking the Republican nomination include Del. Glenn Davis R-Virginia Beach, former Del. Tim Hugo, R-Fairfax, Northern Virginia business consultant Puneet Ahluwalia and Lance Allen of Fauquier County, an Air Force veteran who works for a national security and technology firm.