Amy Laufer campaign kickoff

Amy Laufer announced her candidacy for the 17th District Virginia Senate seat Saturday evening at the Independence in Albemarle County.

To turn the 17th state Senate District blue, Amy Laufer told supporters that she needs every ounce of their energy and to raise nearly $2 million.

“I think we all deserve a better voice in Richmond,” she said at a kickoff event Saturday evening in Albemarle County.

Laufer held several events throughout Central Virginia to formally announce her bid for state Senate. She’s seeking the Democratic nomination to for the seat currently held by Bryce Reeves, R-Spotsylvania, who is seeking a third four-year term.

During her last stop of the day, Laufer laid out a progressive platform that included expanding access to broadband, increasing the minimum wage and addressing climate change. She held events in Fredericksburg, Louisa, Orange and Culpeper before ending the day in Albemarle.

“We need new people with fresh ideas to go to Richmond and help people of Virginia thrive,” she said.

Laufer, a former Charlottesville School Board member, said her candidacy is one of several ways she’s sought to give back to her community and help others. She also has taught middle school, served in the Peace Corps and founded Virginia’s List, an organization supporting progressive women candidates for state office.

Ned Gallaway, chairman of the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors, introduced Laufer at Saturday’s event, held at The Independence, a senior living community on Pantops Mountain. Gallaway, who ran against Reeves in 2015, said the 17th District is not easy to win. The district encompasses part of Albemarle, Culpeper, Spotsylvania and Louisa counties and all of Orange County and Fredericksburg.

“It will take a special candidate to turn this district back to Democrats,” Gallaway said. “Amy Laufer is that special candidate.”

He said Laufer’s work with Virginia’s List proves she can raise the money and do the work required to win.

Reeves has raised more than $2 million since 2012, according to campaign finance reports. He had about $120,000 on hand as of Dec. 31.

Gallaway highlighted Laufer’s roots in Wisconsin, where she grew up on a dairy farm, and her experience in education in his endorsement. Laufer moved to the area in 2002.

“This district is winnable for a candidate who values education, health care and workforce training,” he said.

Laufer said she would prioritize investing in education and wants to see universal preschool throughout the commonwealth.

Laufer served on the city School Board for seven years, where she said she learned about the budgetary impacts of state decisions.

“It opened my eyes to what lawmakers do,” she said.

In January, Laufer resigned from the School Board because she moved outside city limits. She said her family was thinking about moving for some time and found a neighborhood they liked with the Ashcroft subdivision.

Laufer is the third candidate looking to unseat Reeves. She will compete with computer analyst Ben Hixon for the Democratic nomination. Hixon, a former chairman of the Culpeper County Democratic Committee, unsuccessfully challenged 30th District Del. Nick Freitas, R-Culpeper, in 2017.

Hixon said in a statement this past week that he pledged to support Laufer if she wins the June 11 primary.

“I’m looking forward to a friendly campaign with Amy Laufer over the next four months, and then to the Democratic Party nominee defeating Bryce Reeves in November and flipping the Virginia Senate,” he said.

Rich Breeden of Spotsylvania, vice president of government contractor Kingfisher Systems Inc., is challenging Reeves for the Republican nomination.

“I want to welcome Amy and her family into the district and hope she’s had time to unpack,” Breeden said in a response to a request for comment Saturday. “As the only native-born Virginian in this race, I am looking forward to debating her after the June primary and showing our friends and neighbors that my campaign offers a bold new conservative choice instead of echoes of Democratic Socialism.”

Reeves said he was seeking re-election because he was committed to 17th District residents.

"I’m working tirelessly to defend my constituents’ constitutional rights, fighting for lower taxes, and protecting families in our communities," Reeves said in response to a request for comment Sunday. "For example, this session I’m carrying legislation inspired by local families that completely overhauls Virginia’s foster care system, helping children and those seeking to love them. We are looking forward to the Governor signing the bill, and I’m looking forward to continuing to do great things for the 17th District.”

The deadline to file for candidacy for General Assembly primary races is March 28. Independent candidates have until June 11 to file.

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Katherine Knott is a reporter for The Daily Progress. Contact her at (434) 978-7263, kknott@dailyprogress.com, or @knott_katherine on Twitter.

Katherine Knott is a reporter for The Daily Progress and author of The Cheat Sheet, an education-focused newsletter. Contact her at (434) 978-7263, kknott@dailyprogress.com, or @knott_katherine on Twitter.

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