Voters will determine Virginia's next governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, members of the House of Delegates, and some local offices on November 2 in an election now widely seen as a test on how well - or not - the President and the Democrats are doing.
Virginia is one of only five states in the U.S. to hold its statewide elections in years that do not coincide with a presidential or a congressional midterm election, and one of only two - New Jersey being the other - to elect a new governor this year.
In an exclusive interview with LPO, the President of Democratic Latino Organization of Virginia (DLOV), Jonathan Dromgoole, said he believes "Democrats have a strong chance and an opportunity to secure the governorship and keep our democratic control across the Commonwealth."
Democratic voters will decide whether they want former Gov. Terry McAuliffe to return for another term or whether they think one of his four opponents is the best pick to take on Republican nominee Glenn Youngkin.
"When you compare what candidate McAuliffe and candidate Youngkin are presenting to the Commonwealth at large, but really for the Latino community, it really is clear cut for Latinos that the way to go is with Terry McAuliffe," added Dromgoole.
"Youngkin has taken one of the hardest lines against voting rights protections and wants to actually roll back Virginia progress we've had over the last eight years. We've made a lot of progress in the Commonwealth, and we can't allow Republicans to drag us backwards. Glenn Youngkin has opposed COVID-19 relief and relief for small businesses, when it's crucial for our communities to continue to benefit from that support," he said.
DLOV is the official Latino Caucus of the Democratic Party of Virginia (DPVA). Their mission is to expand Latino participation while supporting candidates dedicated to advancing policies that benefit the Latino community in Virginia.
"Every issue is an important issue for the Latino community. I think for such a long time, we were always seen to focus on immigration, but especially here in Virginia, we're such a diverse group of Latinos and we're spread across quite a large part of the Commonwealth. Small businesses are very important for us here, health and access to education are also tremendously important."
"We engage with the Latino community and getting them to turn out to vote is something that we've done very well here in Virginia, especially in Northern Virginia," said Dromgoole.
Additionally, Dromgoole said that is is vital to "show up" for the community, regardless of whether a candidate is seeking their vote or not.
"We're trying to show up to provide resources all year round. That way when we do ask them to vote, they're going to show up and it's not just this exchange that we're saying, all right, it's time again, please show up to vote, and then we'll see you for the next election. We're trying to change that narrative," he said.
DLOV has endorsed a strong slate of Latino candidates running for office in the state, including Delegate Alfonso Lopez, Delegate Elizabeth Guzman, Councilman Canek Aguirre, Councilman David Farajollahi and Delegate Hala Ayala.
"I think the big one is Delegate Hala Ayala and soon to hopefully be Lieutenant Governor. She will be the first Latina, also first woman of color, to be in that position. It would present such a monumental moment for Latinos in Virginia," said Dromgoole.
"We've never had anybody above a state delegate position, so Ayala's hopeful victory come November presents us an opportunity to say Latinos are moving up the ladder here in Virginia,"
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