People For the American Way

A Look at Our Next Up Winners in the Virginia Primary

News and Analysis
A Look at Our Next Up Winners in the Virginia Primary

As a key swing state and possible early indicator for the direction of the 2020 election, Virginia has played an increasingly central role as battleground between progressive and conservative politics. In light of this dynamic, PFAW’s Next Up Victory Fund focused much of its efforts over the past several months on the Virginia primary that took place on June 11.

Next Up, which was created to support young progressive candidates running for state and local office, helps candidates win their races in the short term while creating a pipeline of leaders to run for higher office in years to come. Next Up endorsed a number of incredible candidates in the recent Virginia primary, and are proud to support each of our endorsees’ impressive policy platforms and their campaigns.

As we gear up for the general election, please take this opportunity to get to know some of our incredible candidates who are battling to bring their progressive ideas to office:


Virginia State Legislature

Amanda Pohl, candidate for Senate District 11

Amanda Pohl was born to teenage parents and spent her early years in subsidized housing, eventually becoming the first in her family to graduate from a four-year college. These experiences have helped her understand firsthand some of the struggles her community is facing, and what policy changes need to be implemented. As a candidate, she focuses on affordable health care and housing access, quality education, better infrastructure, and election reform.

Qasim Rashid, candidate for Senate District 28

Qasim Rashid was the target of a vicious, lie-based, anti-Muslim smear campaign in his primary, but did not let his opponents slow him down. Qasim received his law degree from the University of Richmond, and has used his education to serve the community by combatting domestic and sexual violence against women, uplifting the incarcerated through prison chaplaincy, and advocating for better education policies. His campaign focuses on issues like increasing access to health care, providing resources for immigrants, and supporting policies that combat climate change on a local level.

Lee Carter, candidate for House of Delegates District 50

A former Marine and longtime community activist, Lee Carter is a disciplined candidate who is dedicated to being the local leader Virginia needs by putting his district first. During his campaign, he is focusing on expanding Medicaid access, providing clean energy and transportation solutions, defending women’s rights, expanding workers’ rights, limiting corporate influence in Virginia politics, and criminal justice reform.

Sally Hudson, candidate for House of Delegates District 57

Sally Hudson is a teacher, economist, and community organizer in Charlottesville, Virginia. She’s running for office because she understands the economic challenges in the community and is striving to level the playing field by advocating for things like affordable housing and clean energy. Her campaign focuses on issues like fixing unfair loopholes in our election system, criminal justice reform, and investing in education.


Virginia Local Races

Justin Hannah, candidate for Loudoun County Sheriff

Justin Hannah is a former member of the National Guard who has focused his career on public service and leadership. He is running to bring transparency and accountability to the police force, and centered his campaign on servicing his diverse community. As a candidate, he is outspoken on issues like criminal justice reform, creating objective ethical standards for everyone in the force, and finding long term strategies to help the police department function better day-to-day.

Josh King, candidate for Prince William County Sheriff

Josh King is a young progressive, an Army veteran who served in Iraq, a law enforcement officer, an advocate for people with special needs, and a union leader. His campaign focuses on issues like school safety, ending the school to prison pipeline, and providing more holistic services to local veterans. After serving as a deputy sheriff and working as a community organizer for years, he understands the needs of Prince William County, and is committed to working for a system that benefits everyone in the community.

Steve Descano, candidate for Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney

Steve Descano is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and a former U.S. Army helicopter pilot. After attending law school at Temple University, he worked for the Department of Justice, where he aggressively pursued cases in which the privileged and corrupt took advantage of underserved Americans. As a community organizer, Steve is a member of the Fairfax County Police Civilian Review Panel and the Fairfax County Democratic Committee, and has served on the NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia board and the Fairfax County NAACP Criminal Justice Committee. His campaign focuses on putting the community first, addressing inequality in the justice system, and focusing on lowering crime rates.

Michael Payne, candidate for Charlottesville City Council

Michael Payne is a community organizer who is passionate about expanding affordable housing in Charlottesville. He was born and raised in Virginia, and if elected, would be the youngest person on the city council. He is focusing his campaign on tackling racial justice issues, ensuring equity in education, and addressing climate change.


Elections, Local Progress, Next Up Victory Fund, Virginia