RICHMOND, Va. -- Ten months ago, Princess Blanding launched a campaign for governor and a new political party in Virginia. Her name appears on Virginia ballots with fall, as the newly formed Liberation Party tries to make waves where no other third party has in recent Virginia history.
Blanding said her political efforts extend well beyond ten months, though. In fact, she easily quotes the exact date.
“My spark started on May 14, 2018."
It was the day Blanding’s brother, Marcus-David Peters, was shot and killed by a Richmond Police Officer while experiencing a mental health crisis. The shooting was later ruled justified by the Richmond Commonwealth’s Attorney's office.
“Since my brother’s murder, myself, family members, and a continuously growing supporter base here in Richmond and beyond, have begged our local officials that we can’t bring Marcus back, but we can at least enact legislation that prioritizes community care and safety,” she said.
Blanding points to the legislation that bears her brother’s name as an example of her frustration with the two-party political system.
Signed by Virginia Governor Ralph Northam in 2020, the Marcus Alert bill launched a system to “ensure behavioral health experts are involved in responding to individuals in crisis, including by limiting the role of law enforcement.”
Blanding and other activists said the bill was a watered-down version of the original, but said it is only one example.
“What we’re dealing with is politicians who are delivering nothing but crumbs. They’re making symbolic gestures, such as removing the Robert E. Lee monument, while we still have people with nowhere to lay their head,” she said. “After the unjust murder of George Floyd, I kept saying, it’s time for the rise of a strong, independent party and we must expand our fight from the streets to seats of the key legislative positions. But, in all honesty, I didn’t think I was going to be doing that.”
Blanding and other activists launched the Liberation Party of Virginia. On ballots across the state, the abbreviation “LP” appears next to her name. The Libertarian Party, a completely separate party with no statewide candidate in 2021, goes by the abbreviation “L” on ballots.
“The Liberation Party is here to do just that. To ensure that Liberation is a human right, not a privilege, for all Virginians,” Blanding said. “When we say that, we mean ensuring housing security, food sovereignty, Medicare for all. What we’re fighting for is bare-bones equity and humanity.”
Third-party candidates have not fared well in statewide races in recent political history in Virginia.
In 2013, Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Robert Sarvis secured the highest percentage of the statewide vote by a third party candidate in more than 50 years; his 6.5% of votes more than tripled any other third party candidate for Governor.
Blanding knows those numbers but also points out this data point: it has been decades since more than 50% of registered voters in Virginia participated in a gubernatorial election. She argues her campaign speaks directly to those voters who feel left out by the two major parties.
“They feel that nobody is listening and that nobody cares. So it is a breath of fresh air when they see there is a candidate who is fighting for all of us, for all working class, for all marginalized community members, for all the oppressed people,” Blanding said.
Blanding said they expect to win the governor’s race, but no matter the outcome, they plan to continue efforts to grow the Liberation Party and run candidates in further state and local elections.
You can read more about the Blanding campaign and the Liberation Party here. You can watch her live interview with Bill Fitzgerald on CBS 6 at 7 p.m.
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Watch CBS 6 News at 7 p.m. with Bill Fitzgerald on TV, WTVR.com/LIVE or now streaming on Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV and Android TV. Just search "WTVR Richmond" in your app store.
Key Dates and Deadlines in Virginia
Friday, Sept. 17: Early, In-Person Voting Begins
Thursday, Oct. 12: Voter Registration Deadline
Friday, Oct. 22: Request Absentee/Mail-In Ballot Deadline
Saturday, Oct. 30: Early, In-Person Voting Ends
Tuesday, Nov. 2 is Election Day: In-Person Voting from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Tuesday, Nov. 2: Absentee/Mail-In Postmark by Date
Friday, Nov. 5: Absentee/Mail-In Delivered By Date