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Del. Sam Rasoul pursues reelection to House, nomination for lieutenant governor as GOP lines up House challenger
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Del. Sam Rasoul pursues reelection to House, nomination for lieutenant governor as GOP lines up House challenger

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Del. Sam Rasoul, D-Roanoke, listens to debate during a floor session last year inside the State Capitol in Richmond. Rasoul has emerged as a leader in his party’s large pack for lieutenant governor.

Roanoke Del. Sam Rasoul will run for both his House of Delegates seat and the Democratic lieutenant governor nomination as Republicans put forward a candidate to challenge him for the House position.

Rasoul has emerged as a leader in his party’s large pack for lieutenant governor after raising more than $600,000 by the end of last year — more than double what some of the other candidates raised. Rasoul is one of the more progressive members of the House, to which he was elected in 2014. He was the first Muslim member of the legislature.

It’s common for members of the General Assembly to seek their party’s nomination for statewide office and still pursue reelection to their House seat so they can try and retain that seat if they lose the statewide nomination.

Democrats will choose their nominees in a June 8 state-run primary.

The crowded field includes Dels. Hala Ayala and Elizabeth Guzman, both of Prince William County, Del. Mark Levine, D-Alexandria, Paul Goldman, a former chairman of the Virginia Democratic Party, Norfolk councilwoman Andria McClellan, Sean Perryman, president of the Fairfax County NAACP, and Xavier Warren, a partner in a lobbying firm that seeks grants for nonprofits.

In one of the earliest attacks, Perryman sent out a press release last month criticizing Rasoul for his support for the constitutional amendment that voters approved in November to set up a bipartisan redistricting commission. The amendment takes the power away from the legislature to draw the legislative maps, which leads the majority party to draw lines to benefit itself. Groups like the NAACP opposed the amendment, which voters approved.

The lieutenant governorship is a part-time job. Its duties include casting tie-breaking votes in the Virginia Senate. In the past, it has served as a springboard to the governor’s office.

With the pandemic restricting the ability to meet in person, Rasoul has been participating in virtual events with supporters to share his message. He’s been focusing his message on supporting policies that work for everyone in the commonwealth. Rasoul has been vocal about the Democratic Party not dismissing the western part of the state and the need to seek the support of former Trump voters who feel left behind.

If Rasoul were to win the lieutenant governor and House race, a special election would be held for his House seat.

At least one Democrat has shown interest in the House seat. Peter Volosin, who unsuccessfully sought the Democratic nomination for Congress in 2018 and didn’t win a seat on Roanoke City Council last year, filed paperwork to run for the seat. He’s since withdrawn the paperwork. He didn’t return an inquiry about his plans to seek the seat.

Meanwhile, Republicans have lined up Charlie Nave, an attorney and chairman of the Roanoke City Republican Committee, to run for the House seat. At his campaign announcement, Nave complained about Roanoke City Council, the school board and COVID-19 restrictions. He’s focusing his campaign on law and order, gun rights, opposition to abortion rights and reining in expanded voting rights.

The 11th House District, which covers most of Roanoke, is a Democratic stronghold. Since winning a special election with 70% of the vote, Rasoul has never faced a challenger.

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