Del. Hala Ayala announced her candidacy for lieutenant governor of Virginia Tuesday. If elected, she would be the first woman and first Afro-Latina to hold the position.
Ayala, D-51st, was first elected in a 2017 wave that carried Virginia Democrats into control of the Virginia House of Delegates – flipping four House seats in Prince William County. Ayala and Del. Elizabeth Guzman, D-31st, also elected in 2017, are the first Latinas to serve in the Virginia General Assembly.
Ayala won her seat in 2017 by defeating former delegate Rich Anderson, a Republican, in one of Prince William County's swing districts. She faced Anderson again in 2019 and was re-elected with about 53% of the vote.
Ayala joins several other Prince William County area Democratic lawmakers who have announced bids for higher office. Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy, D-2nd, is running for governor in 2021. Guzman has said she is exploring a run for lieutenant governor but has not formally announced her bid.
Ayala, the daughter of a Salvadorian and North African immigrant father and an Irish and Lebanese mother, went from being a single mom working at a gas station without health insurance to building a career as a cybersecurity specialist with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Ayala said she said her life experience “embodies the bridge between Virginia’s past and its future, as well as the bridge between struggle and success that many Virginia families face.”
“I believe my life experiences enable me to be a bridge builder so we can move Virginia forward into a strong, just, and prosperous future. I think that’s what our families want — someone who understands their experiences and can bring people together to make progress in their day-to-day lives,” Ayala said.
Ayala has already received the endorsement of several area lawmakers and leaders. Del. Danica Roem, D-13th, announced her endorsement of Ayala Tuesday, as did Prince William County NAACP President Cozy Bailey.
“Our country and our commonwealth face so much division and divisiveness, and we need leaders who understand that and are actively working to address it,” Bailey said. “Hala is the bridge builder who can bring together our communities and bring about real, lasting, and meaningful change.”