Delegate Jay Jones dropped a big piece of news on Thursday of last week. He told his constituents that he would be resigning his seat effective December 31st. Jones stated a desire to spend time with his family and recently announced that he and his wife are expecting a child.
The General Assembly kicks off in early January, so finding a replacement requires a quick special election. The special election was quickly set by Speaker Filler-Corn for January 11th, with candidates required to file by this Wednesday, December 22nd. But in this heavily Democratic district, the party’s candidate is nearly a sure winner in the special election. The nominating caucus for the local Democratic party to select a candidate was promptly set for Tuesday, the 21st. It involves a drive-thru voting setup open 4 pm – 8 pm.
That’s just five days from Jones’ resignation, which is not ample time for candidates to assemble. On Friday, journalist Brandon Jarvis reported that Norfolk City Council member Andria McClellan was seriously considering a run. Sure enough, Saturday morning, she declared that she had a big announcement to make that afternoon. McClellan posted photos of herself in front of video cameras, seemingly recording the statement.
But then something happened. McClellan posted again, saying she was ready to “adapt, adjust, and ready to do the right thing.” She clarified that she would not be running in the 89th but would be endorsing a soon-to-be-announced candidate. We don’t yet have an idea of what happened behind the scenes, but clearly, it was something big enough to derail a very much in-motion candidacy by a prominent Norfolk elected official.
We finally got an announced candidate on Sunday. A flyer for Alicia Smith with a list of endorsements from prominent Black community leaders circulated on social media. Smith, at the time, had no social media presence and no website to be found. Save for evidence of a few accounts made private or deleted. Her locked-down LinkedIn account listed her address as Chesapeake. Alicia Smith is not a name that’s familiar to most semi-diligent political watchers in the City.
McClellan at first shared the flyers by Alicia Smith, but curiously those posts about Alicia Smith seem to have disappeared from social media within a few hours. McClellan clarified on Monday that she would be endorsing a different candidate. A website appeared for Alicia that sported an even more extensive list of endorsements by Monday afternoon, but curiously still including McClellan. Monday Morning, McClellan followed up with Brandon Jarvis, confirming that she pulled her endorsement from Smith. (Update: Smith’s flyers with McClellan are no longer up).
Political commentator Max Shapiro was quick to dive into the research. According to Shapiro, Smith had changed her voter registration from Chesapeake to Norfolk just days ago. This tactic got David Nygaard thrown off a Virginia Beach ballot in 2019. We’re still tracking down the paperwork to confirm that, but Brett Hall with Wavy TV 10 is reporting that Smith voted in Chesapeake in November 2021.
By Monday, two other candidates had jumped into the race. Jackie Glass, who previously ran for school board and city council in Norfolk, is a community organizer. In November, Danica Royster narrowly defeated Glass in the race for Superward 7. Web / Facebook / Insta
Joining Jackie Glass is Danté Walston, who previously ran in the 79th House District. His location on Facebook still states Portsmouth, although we haven’t confirmed his current registration address. He picked up around 11% of the vote in a primary versus Nadarius Clark and Steve Heretick. Facebook / Insta
Late Monday, Andria McClellan formally endorsed Jackie Glass, breaking rank from the litany of Democratic leaders endorsing Alicia Smith.
Web and social presence for Alicia Smith went up midday Monday with more biography.
Brett Hall with Wavy TV reports on Monday evening that Smith owns a home in Lindenwood and claims to have lived there since 2020, despite voting in Chesapeake.
Danté Walston may face a similar residency challenge to Smith. He ran for office in June from a residence in Portsmouth.
Endorsements for Jackie Glass continue to roll in Monday evening. Prominent community leaders Cathy Lewis and Vivian Paige have joined Team Glass.
We’ll keep you posted as more develops in this race. Stay tuned on our Instagram page.