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Former state Sen. Bill Carrico of Grayson County opts not to run for governor, endorses Del. Kirk Cox

Former state Sen. Bill Carrico of Grayson County opts not to run for governor, endorses Del. Kirk Cox

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Bill Carrico, a former state senator from Grayson County, said Wednesday he will not run for governor and is backing former Virginia House Speaker Kirk Cox.

Carrico, a former Virginia State Police trooper, announced his endorsement along with an intent to rally support for Cox’s plan he rolled out focused on public safety, which includes raises for law enforcement.

“I believe Kirk’s the right man, and I believe he’s the one who can put Virginia forward economically for everyone and bring forth a more safe and secure state,” Carrico said in a phone interview.

If elected governor, Cox wants to invest $50 million in the first year of his administration to boost law enforcement salaries. He also wants to raise the base pay for troopers and sheriff’s deputies, eliminate salary compression for veteran law enforcement officers, and implement a 2019 plan from the Virginia State Police aimed at addressing pay and employee retention. The plan would also call for the creation of a group made up of law enforcement to figure out how to allocate the $50 million to address pay.

Carrico said it costs a lot to train someone to be a police officer, so losing them after only a few years of service so they can go somewhere else to make more money is not a good use of state dollars.

“We would be very hard-pressed to provide the kind of security we need with what we’re paying right now, even if we increased it with $50 million,” Carrico said. “What we pay in Virginia to keep people safe is worth every penny.”

The dominant issue Republicans have been using to criticize Democrats is law enforcement, with Republicans touting their support for police while saying Democrats are more focused on helping people who commit crimes. Republicans pushed back against many proposals Democrats introduced during a special session this year, saying they would contribute to an exodus of police officers.

Republicans have also been keeping attention on the Virginia Parole Board, which has come under scrutiny for the release of certain inmates with violent convictions and a lack of transparency about decisions. Democrats have mostly been silent about the parole board or have come to its defense.

Carrico was one of the loudest advocates for law enforcement while in the General Assembly, and Cox said his guidance on law enforcement issues will be of importance during his campaign.

“He’ll be a counselor to me and really countering the attitude the Democrats have had that has hurt law enforcement’s morale,” Cox said.

Carrico said that while his family was the main factor into why he decided not to run, he said he also wanted to step aside and back Cox as a sign of unity in the party.

“I wanted to show everybody we don’t have to be divided all the time,” Carrico said.

Carrico and Cox had been visiting people throughout Virginia for the past several months. Carrico invited Cox to attend his church and meet with his pastor.

Republicans will use a convention to choose their nominee next year. So far, Cox is the only announced Republican candidate who plans to compete in the convention. Cox is a former schoolteacher and youth baseball coach from Chesterfield County who has served in the House of Delegates for 30 years,

After the state party announced it would use a convention, Sen. Amanda Chase, R-Chesterfield, said she would run as an independent. She’s been encouraging her supporters to pressure the Republican Party of Virginia to change its nomination method to a state-run primary.

Other Republicans exploring a run include state Sen. Emmett Hanger, R-Augusta; outgoing Rep. Denver Riggleman, R-Nelson; Charlottesville businessman Pete Snyder; and former Carlyle Group co-chief executive Glenn Youngkin.

The Democrats seeking the party nomination are Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax; Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy, D-Prince William; former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe; and state Sen. Jennifer McClellan. Del. Lee Carter, a socialist, has filed paperwork to raise money for a gubernatorial bid but has not declared he would run. Democrats will use a state-run primary to pick their nominee next year.

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