Louise Lucas has served over 30 years as an elected official in Virginia, making history as the first black woman elected to the Virginia General Assembly from the Hampton Roads region. Her trailblazing career is defined by her progressive legislative agenda and advocacy for her constituents in Virginia’s 18th Senate District.
Early Life and Education
L. Louise Lucas was born on January 22, 1944 in Portsmouth, Virginia. After graduating from I.C. Norcom High School, Lucas pursued higher education while raising six sons as a single mother. She earned a Bachelor of Science from Norfolk State University in 1971 and later a Master of Arts in 1982, also from Norfolk State.
Early Political Career
Before running for state office, Lucas served on the Portsmouth School Board from 1984 to 1992. She was the first African American woman elected to the Portsmouth School Board.
Election to Virginia Senate
In 1991, Lucas challenged incumbent State Senator Robert C. Scott in the Democratic primary. She campaigned on the message that the district needed “a senator, not a civil rights leader.” Lucas pulled off an upset victory against Scott, who had held the seat for 15 years.
Lucas went on to win the general election in November 1991, making history as the first African American woman elected to the Virginia Senate from the Hampton Roads region.
Tenure in Virginia Senate
As a Virginia Senator, Lucas has served on committees dealing with commerce, labor, education, health, courts of justice, and finance. She currently chairs the Senate Education and Health Committee.
Some of Lucas’ notable sponsored bills include measures to:
- Calculate competitive pay for teachers
- Provide reduced college tuition rates
- Allow localities to collect sales tax from entertainment arenas
- Increase penalties for false emergency calls
Lucas has also taken on key leadership roles in the Virginia Senate. In 2020, she became the first black woman to serve as President Pro Tempore.
Economy and Business
Lucas is considered a pro-business Democrat. She has supported legislation beneficial to major employers in her district, including shipbuilders and the tourism industry.
Lucas has sponsored bills to expand Medicaid coverage for low-income Virginians. She has also advocated for mental health services and reforms at state psychiatric hospitals.
As chair of the education committee, Lucas has championed increased K-12 funding and supported Virginia’s community colleges and historically black colleges and universities.
Lucas is a strong advocate for civil rights and progressive social policies. She has supported LGBTQ rights, women’s reproductive rights, and criminal justice reforms.
Confederate Monument Charges
In 2020, Lucas faced charges related to a protest that brought down a Confederate monument in Portsmouth. The charges were dismissed, but the incident fueled debate about Lucas’ stance on Confederate symbols.
Fundraising and Donors
Lucas has built a strong fundraising operation over her Senate career. Major donors have included labor unions, teachers groups, healthcare companies, and law firms.
Lucas has been endorsed by prominent Virginia Democrats and groups like the Virginia Education Association and EMILY’s List.
Senator Lucas lives in Portsmouth, where she operates a residential healthcare facility. She serves as a deaconess at the New Mount Olivet Baptist Church. Lucas has six adult sons and many grandchildren.
For over 30 years, Senator Louise Lucas has passionately represented her constituents while advancing a progressive policy agenda. She has broken gender and racial barriers throughout her trailblazing political career in Virginia. Lucas continues to champion economic, educational, and social causes as an influential senior member of the Virginia Senate.
How long has Louise Lucas served in the Virginia Senate?
Louise Lucas has served in the Virginia State Senate since 1992, making her one of the longest serving members of the Virginia legislature. She has been re-elected to represent Virginia’s 18th Senate District for over 30 years.
What legislation has Senator Lucas sponsored?
Some of Lucas’ notable sponsored legislation includes bills to increase K-12 education funding, provide reduced college tuition rates, expand Medicaid, collect sales tax from entertainment arenas, reform mental health services, and increase penalties for false emergency calls.
What Senate leadership positions has Lucas held?
Lucas has served in Senate leadership roles including chair of the Education and Health Committee. In 2020, she became the first black woman to hold the position of President Pro Tempore in the Virginia Senate.
What were the Confederate monument charges against Lucas?
In 2020, Lucas faced charges related to a protest in Portsmouth that brought down a Confederate monument. The charges were dismissed, but fueled debate about her stance on Confederate symbols.
How has Lucas been able to get re-elected so many times?
Lucas has maintained strong support in her district through steady fundraising, high-profile endorsements, and maintaining a progressive policy agenda focused on issues like education, healthcare, and economic development.