JUST IN: Democratic challengers for 37th Senate District team up in push to oust Chap Petersen

Erika Yalowitz, candidate for State Senate in the 37th District (photo courtesy of Erika Yalowitz)

Community organizer Erika Yalowitz has suspended her campaign for the Virginia State Senate’s 37th District.

One of three candidates seeking the Democratic nomination, Yalowitz announced today (Thursday) that she is withdrawing from the race and will instead endorse her opponent, Saddam Azlan Salim, a financial consultant and vice president of the Fairfax Young Democrats.

After launching her campaign in February, Yalowitz says she has decided to work with Salim in a bid to defeat incumbent Chap Petersen, who has represented voters in the now-defunct 34th District since 2008.

“If we want to make progress on the issues we care about, such as gun safety, reproductive justice or housing affordability, we need to elect a different senator,” Yalowitz said in a statement. “That is why I am making the decision to suspend my campaign and endorse Saddam Salim in this race. Saddam is a good candidate that I know supports a lot of the same issues that I do.”

Yalowitz’s campaign has stopped accepting donations and will use its remaining funds to cover remaining expenses, such as staff compensation, she said in a message to supporters. She plans to give any funds leftover after that to Salim’s campaign.

Created by Virginia’s redistricting process in 2021, the new 37th Senate District incorporates Tysons, Merrifield and Falls Church City into the former 34th District’s boundaries, which included Vienna and Fairfax City.

An Arlington Circuit Court officer, Yalowitz lives in Tysons and has held leadership roles in several community organizations, including the Providence District Council, Tysons Community Alliance, and the Fairfax Federation. She also advocated for preserving Oakton’s Blake Lane Park when it was being eyed as a potential school site.

She previously ran for the Providence District seat on the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors in 2019.

Both Yalowitz and Salim have criticized Petersen for breaking with Democrats on issues like an assault weapons ban and marijuana legalization.

In a statement released by his campaign, Salim thanked his former opponent for her support:

I want to thank Erika Yalowitz for bringing a progressive voice into this campaign and advocating for important issues like reproductive rights, the fentanyl crisis, gun violence prevention and public education. I also want to thank her for her endorsement – I appreciate it deeply and I look forward to working with her on the campaign trail to give the people of the 37th District a new choice for the first time in sixteen years. Erika will have a great future in the Democratic Party and I look forward to supporting her wholeheartedly in her next endeavors.

Petersen said that he spoke Yalowitz earlier today and wishes her well, but her decision won’t affect his campaign for reelection.

“We’ll continue forward with a positive message focused on our constituents,” he told FFXnow.

Petersen has raised the most money of the 37th District candidates so far, as of Monday (April 17), when the campaign finance reports for the first three months of the year were due.

The Democratic primary will be held on June 20, with this year’s general election coming on Nov. 7. The lone Republican candidate is Ken Reid, a former Loudoun County supervisor.

Read more on FFXnow…

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