Del. Elizabeth Guzman announced Saturday she is dropping her bid for lieutenant governor to focus on re-election to the Virginia House of Delegates. The move follows campaign finance reports showing Guzman was outraised by fellow Democratic candidates in primaries for both seats.
“After assessing the campaign finance reports that posted yesterday, I have made the difficult decision to suspend our historic campaign and put all our resources into defending the House of Delegates seat,” Guzman wrote in an extensive statement, released Saturday, April 17.
Guzman, 48, has held the 31st District seat in the Virginia House of Delegates since first winning election in 2017.
Last October, she announced her candidacy for lieutenant governor, saying Virginia needed “a progressive” in its second-highest elective post to ensure goals such as allowing unions collective bargaining rights, raising the state’s minimum wage and guaranteeing paid sick leave did not continue to face roadblocks in the Virginia state Senate.
But the race for lieutenant governor has since become the most crowded in Virginia, with seven Democrats and six Republicans vying for the seat. With the field widening, Guzman announced in March she would file for Democratic primaries for both the 31st District House seat and in the lieutenant governor’s race.
According to campaign fundraising reports released Friday, Guzman came in sixth place in collecting cash for her bid for lieutenant governor, falling behind fellow delegates Sam Rasoul, D-11th, of Roanoke; Mark Levine, D-45th, of Alexandria; Hala Ayala, D-51st, of Woodbridge; and Glenn Davis, R-8th, of Virginia Beach. Guzman was also outraised by Norfolk City Councilwoman Andria McClellan.
Rasoul is so far the top money-raiser in the lieutenant governor’s race, pulling in more than $630,000 in the first quarter of 2021 and a total of more than $1.3 million. Guzman raised $117,845 from Jan. 1 through March 31, according to the Virginia Public Access Project.
If Guzman had been elected lieutenant governor, she would have been the first woman and first Latina to serve in the post. Ayala, who is still in the lieutenant governor’s race, is also vying for that achievement. Ayala is not running for re-election to her delegate's seat.
After Guzman’s October 2020 announcement for lieutenant governor, fellow Democrats Rod Hall, Idris O’Connor and Kara Pitek, all of Prince William County, jumped in the race to succeed her. Ben Baldwin, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran, also of Prince William County, is the only Republican in the race. The 31st District straddles parts of eastern Prince William and Fauquier counties.
Hall outraised Guzman in the Democratic primary race for the 31st District delegate seat in the first quarter of 2021, pulling in $128,099 compared to Guzman’s $48,970, according to VPAP.
Guzman has the most money on hand, however, with a total of $177,814 remaining from funds she raised in both her bid for lieutenant governor and for re-election in the House. Hall is in second place with cash on hand with $103,249, according to VPAP.
In her statement, Guzman, a social worker and public administrator for the City of Alexandria, thanked her family and her supporters and said the energy she felt on the campaign trail “was electrifying.”
“My faith in the grassroots has never been greater. I did not know how I would be received outside my district, but Virginia Democrats in every corner of the commonwealth were absolutely ready to elect an immigrant with an accent to statewide office,” she said.
Guzman, an immigrant from Peru, came to the U.S. when she was a single mother in her early 20s. She often tells the story of having to work multiple jobs to afford a small apartment in Northern Virginia. Since arriving in the U.S., Guzman has earned a bachelor’s and two master’s degrees. She now lives in Woodbridge with her husband, Carlos, and their four children.
Guzman said her limited time to fundraise and her inability to self-fund her race “put [her] at a stark disadvantage.”
“If my political future were the only thing at stake, I would roll the dice and hope for the best, as I think our campaign had a lot going for us and that there are many variables in a seven-person race,” her statement said. “But the communities I represent need my voice in the General Assembly. I am a social worker, a union sister, a Latina, an immigrant, and an unapologetic progressive.”
Guzman’s statement also said that while “the Democratic trifecta” in Virginia had made great strides, there is still more work to do on economic justice and workers’ rights.
“We have majorities in both chambers but have so far failed to pass legislation that would ensure every worker has the right to paid sick days and a living wage. We have failed so far to pass legislation to ensure our farm workers are even paid the minimum wage. We have failed so far to pass legislation that would make Virginia the 50th state in which workers’ comp covers repetitive motion injuries. And we have failed so far to pass legislation that would empower workers to form strong unions by repealing so-called ‘right to work,’” her statement said.
The Democratic primary is Tuesday, June 8. Early, absentee in-person voting begins this Friday, April 23.