Cari Squire, ER Nurse and spouse EXTRAORDINAIRE:
“You want to do what?!”
One of the questions I'm most frequently asked when I tell folks I’m running for lieutenant governor is: “Uhh, what exactly does the Lieutenant Governor do?”
Well, there's an old joke that the lieutenant governor's job is to check the governor's pulse since they’re next in the line of succession and have few official responsibilities. Then-Lieutenant Governor Northam loved to quip that, as a doctor, he was the perfect man for the job.
But, c’mon. Taking vital signs? Standing for long periods of time without a break? Let’s be real- nurses are experts at that.
Joking aside, it seems the true job for the Lieutenant Governor in Virginia has been not to be the Lieutenant Governor, but to audition to run for something else, as every LG in modern history has sought either the governor's mansion or a seat in Congress. While the candidate for Lieutenant Governor gets listed second on the yard sign, the fact of the matter is they’re the least important of the three statewide officials. One former LG quipped, "Any politician who says that they’re running for Lieutenant Governor but don't want to be governor is lying."
Well, I’m not a politician; I’m a nurse. So when I say I’m running to be the Lieutenant Governor, I mean I’m running to be the Lieutenant Governor.
then what, exactly, do you think the Lieutenant Governor should do?
Glad you asked! To me, LG isn’t just the “on-deck” circle for Governor. It’s not just a rung on the ladder. It's an opportunity to use the bully pulpit to fight unapologetically for Virginians. To push and develop cutting-edge policy that will positively impact every Virginian, in every zip code, and every corner of the Commonwealth. To be an advocate for everyone who feels like Richmond is so far removed from their lives, it might as well be on Mars. And it’s a chance to prove that even the highest levels of government office aren’t out of reach for working-class folks, who do what they can, day in and day out, to make ends meet.
As essential as it is to prove that’s true, it’s not easy making that decision. You can’t take lightly the prospect of spending time away from your family, while enduring the slings, and arrows of a political campaign. When the other side can’t win on policy, or get furious you won’t simply take their punches without complaint, they’ll attack you — your character, integrity, and family — relentlessly. It’s a system custom-made to make sure everyday working-class folks can’t be a part of it.
As a shift worker and “punch clock warrior”, that’s a big deal. Both my wife and I gotta work to pay the bills. Health insurance premiums where we live are literally the most expensive in the country, so we can’t afford to get sick. And with three kids, child care is so expensive it’d about be cheaper if we piled ‘em in an Uber and had it circle the block until our shifts were over. Like most working folks in the Commonwealth, we sacrifice every single day to make things work for our kids and our family.
The odds might be stacked against a candidacy like this one. But if you believe in fighting for the future of the Commonwealth, you can’t sit this one out. This is a crucial election cycle in Virginia, a turning point that comes once in a generation. There are too many people still hurting, and there are gigantic considerations looming on the horizon that we need to be ready for. Threats to jobs from automation; threats to our economy & communities from climate change; threats from creeping authoritarianism and a federal government that doesn't work for the people of Virginia; and the very real chance of an eventual economic downturn caused by a burst bubble. These issues need to be addressed immediately.
Instead, we’ve had political hacks and politicians that have decided to desperately hold on to power. Power for power’s sake, serving a political class instead of 8.5 million Virginians counting on them to make things better. With no positive vision to share for our Commonwealth or our country. When given the chance to lead, follow, or get out of the way, they regularly take the third option— sitting on the sidelines, letting other people take the heat, waiting to see what's popular instead of what's right— because if leading means risking their political careers, they’re not interested. They’ll retweet, like, share, and offer “thoughts and prayers” to their heart’s content- but nothing more.
As a nurse, as a father and a husband and a Christian and a Virginian— that’s something I can’t stomach. Something I won’t tolerate.
Yeah, but you’re just A nurse who lives in a holler; aren’t you a little too inexperienced to run for LG?
That sentiment irritated me about the last LG race, when all three of our candidates— none of whom had previously held political office— were simultaneously derided as being “unqualified” to be Lieutenant Governor by so many people because of their “inexperience”. It didn’t matter that they had impressive accomplishments and resumes, because they didn’t fit with The Way Things Have Always Been Done Here™.
Listen, that’s just wrong. Elected experience is great. But the greater requirement for politicians ought to be whether or not a candidate has the call to civic duty to stand up and fight for Virginia. And sure, while there’s a difference between winning and governing, we’re seeing more and more folks who have done an outstanding job of both. Folks without an iota of elected experience, and, yet, they’re winning races that were “impossible” to win just one cycle earlier— and have been going above and beyond to represent their districts.
And it’s not just them— with the precarious situation our Commonwealth and our Republic are in now, the way things have “always” been done aren't going to cut it any longer. Here in Virginia, we aren’t even close to being ready for the challenges ahead. We need a new generation of citizen legislators, people with good hearts and strong minds who will stand up and fight for our Commonwealth.
It’s not gonna be easy; I recognize that. There’s too many special interest groups, partisans, and purists out there who have too much invested in the system as it’s built now. They’re not going to allow change without a fight. But I suppose that’s inevitable when you’re up against people who want one size fits all Virginians, instead of a Virginia that works for everyone; when you’re fighting for the progressive values that represent the new American center. Y’know, crazy ideas like making sure affordable, high-quality healthcare is available in every community. Or getting dark money out of politics. Ending gerrymandering from both parties. Creating well-paying, sustainable jobs. Increasing personal freedom and liberties. Moving up from being ranked dead last in the country for working folks. Standing up for small businesses and working families in every zip code. Enacting criminal justice reform. Making childcare affordable. Establishing Virginia as leader in energy independence. Ensuring we’ve got clean air and water for our kids.
So… a nurse, huh?
Absolutely. A nurse running for Lieutenant Governor makes perfect sense for many reasons.
Because nurses care for everyone, regardless of who they are or where they came from.
Because empathy, advocacy, and respect are the cornerstone of everything we do. We know how listen- and I mean really listening, not just waiting for our turn to talk, or to say what we were already going to say. Nurses listen and hear the things that often nobody else can.
Because nurses are on the front lines of standing up for our communities. There is not a day that goes by when nurses don’t feel the impact of a government that doesn’t work for its people.
And last but not least, because nurses don’t quit. Nurses soldier on long after everyone else has given up. That's because we know that most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who keep trying, even when there seemed to be no hope.
Nurses may not fit well in the class of professional politicians. But if you want an unapologetic fighter for every working Virginia family, in every zip code, in every holler and hill, every city street, every school and every farmhouse, from the mountains to the sea?
Look for a nurse.