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G O V E R NME N T / P O L I T I C S


HALA AYALA DELEGATE, VIRGINIA HOUSE OF DELEGATES; DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE FOR LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR, PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY


Part of the new guard of Democratic state lawmakers, Ayala won her seat in the House of Delegates in 2017 by defeating a five-term GOP incumbent. This spring, she beat a full field of opponents to win the Democratic nom- ination for lieutenant governor. If elected, Ayala would be the first woman to hold the job and the first woman of color ever elected to statewide office in Virginia.


Before entering electoral politics, Ayala was a cybersecurity specialist


with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for 17 years. She also has spoken about being on public assistance twice in her life, including when she was pregnant. “I understand the struggles so many Virginia families face because I’ve lived them,” Ayala says. Aſter the Democrats regained power over both statehouses in 2019’s


elections, Ayala rose to chief deputy whip and helped marshal votes for legalizing marijuana and abolishing the death penalty. Ayala received an endorsement from Gov. Ralph Northam during the Democratic primary but also met with controversy when she accepted a $100,000 donation from Dominion Energy aſter promising in previous years to refuse money from the utility. She faces GOP nominee Winsome Sears on the November ballot.


JUSTIN FAIRFAX LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR, COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA, RICHMOND


C. TODD GILBERT HOUSE MINORITY LEADER, VIRGINIA HOUSE OF DELEGATES, SHENANDOAH


In an interview with Virginia Business this year, Gilbert said that one of his aims is to protect Virginia’s business climate and to oppose Democrats’ repeal of the state’s “almost sacred right-to-work law.” An attorney and former majority leader before party control flipped in 2020, Gilbert has served in the House since 2006. The Republican has a reputation for sometimes


combative rhetoric and made headlines in 2019 when he confronted Democratic Del. Kathy Tran on the House floor over her proposal to repeal some restrictions on abortions. The bill was subsequently tabled.


Gilbert is a rock-steady supporter of conservative values. The Family Foundation named him “Legislator of the Year” in 2013, and he received the same honor from the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police and the Virginia State Police Association. He has an ‘A’ rating from the Virginia Chamber of Commerce in recognition of his pro-business voting record and an ‘A-Plus’ career rating from the National Rifle Association. The University of Virginia and Southern Methodist


University alum is in private law practice in the Shenandoah Valley. Previously, he was lead prosecutor in the Shenandoah County Commonwealth's Attorney's Office.


Fairfax took a bold gamble running for the 2021 Democratic gubernatorial nomination, but it didn’t pay off. The former federal prosecutor and civil litigator was a rising star of the state Democratic Party when he won the lieutenant governorship in 2017, becoming only the second Black candidate to be elected to statewide office in Virginia. At that time, his prospects to run for governor looked good, but in 2019 two women accused him of sexual assault. The married father of two has said he was “falsely accused” of the alleged assaults, which date back to the early 2000s, and resisted calls to resign. No legal charges were brought against him, but his gubernatorial ambitions suffered irreparable damage. Fairfax finished a distant fourth in the crowded June 8 primary and will be out of office in January. In June, a lawsuit he brought against CBS for what he characterized as a reckless disregard in airing interviews with his accusers was dismissed by a federal appeals court.


KEVIN HALL EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, VIRGINIA LOTTERY, RICHMOND


As executive director of the Virginia Lottery since 2018, Hall has overseen three record years of sales and profits, partly with the introduction of online ticket sales in 2020. In fiscal year 2021, the lottery brought in a record $3.26 billion in revenue, a 52% increase over the previous year, and contributed $765 million to public schools. “Online players have shattered all of our expectations and allowed the


Virginia Lottery to set the standard as the nation’s most successful online lottery launch,” Hall said.


A former news director and anchor at radio station WRVA in Richmond, Hall was a spokesman and adviser to U.S. Sen. Mark Warner from 2009 to 2017 and served as press secretary to Govs. Warner and Tim Kaine. In the last couple years, the lottery has been


given regulatory responsibility over newly legal commercial casinos and sports betting enterprises in Virginia, expanding Hall’s authority. In the first five months of this year, Virginia bettors made more than $1 billion in online sports wagers. And casinos are under development in Bristol, Danville, Norfolk and


Portsmouth, with Richmond voters considering a fiſth casino in a November referendum.


94 VIRGINIA 500


C. Todd Gilbert photo by Caroline Martin


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