Valerie Foushee is the Democratic nominee for the U.S. House of Representatives from North Carolina’s 4th Congressional District which includes Durham County, Orange County, Person County, Granville County, Alamance County and parts of Caswell County.
Foushee is currently a state senator in North Carolina for District 23, a position she has held since 2013 after a brief stint in the North Carolina House of Representatives.
Before that, she worked as an administrator with the Chapel Hill Police Department, served as the first African-American female elected to the Orange County Board of Commissioners, was on the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City School Board and also held various administrative positions with insurance and research companies.
Foushee holds a bachelor’s degree in political science and African and Afro-American studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Why she’s running
Foushee thought that she would end her tenure in elected service in the North Carolina State Senate. However, after U.S. Rep. David Price, a Democrat, announced his retirement, Foushee saw a window of opportunity.
“I started receiving phone calls from supporters asking me if I would consider a run. I had not considered running,” she said. “I did see an opportunity to advance some ideas that, of course, we’ve not been able to move in the General Assembly.”
Codifying Roe v. Wade
Foushee is pro-choice and believes it is time for the core holding of Roe v. Wade, which conferred the right to have an abortion, to be codified into federal law.
“I think if there is one thing that any human being is in control of, it’s his or her own body,” said Foushee. “That shouldn’t be different for women as it is for men, women should have the right to determine if they want to bear children. And if they don’t, women should have the right to reproductive healthcare.”
Foushee would consider term limits for the justices on the Supreme Court if the Court were to strike down legislation to codify Roe into federal law, but would be open to other ways to strengthen checks and balances.
Foushee is concerned about the rising costs of healthcare and supports a Medicare for All system. However, she stopped short of putting her support behind phasing out private insurance.
“I don’t think we should phase out private insurance altogether. I think we should offer a public option [so] that means there’s something else available,” Foushee said.
Democracy and voting rights
Foushee intends to support the passage of the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act if elected to Congress. She also wants to work towards eliminating gerrymandering.
She believes a nonpartisan commission should draw the congressional districts.
“We need to rid ourselves of gerrymandering so that we can protect the notion of one person, one vote,” she said.
Foushee also believes that allegations of widespread voter fraud during the 2020 election are unsubstantiated. However, she thinks that there is still more to be done to strengthen voter protection to ensure that every vote counts. In the North Carolina Senate, she has sponsored legislation to automatically register eligible voters and make Election Day a public holiday in the state.
Common sense gun restrictions
Foushee believes “common sense” gun laws are necessary. These laws include proposals like raising buyers’ minimum age and strengthening background checks, while preserving individuals’ Second Amendment right to bear arms.
“Why would we not want to do background checks to ensure that people who are purchasing weapons have not had incidents of where they have committed violent acts?” Foushee said.
Affordable education and student debt
Foushee believes that the government should start providing free higher education. Specifically, she supports providing free community college for students and eventually moving towards providing other free higher education options at public institutions.
The state senator also approves of President Joe Biden’s move to cancel up to $20,000 in student loan debt, but questions the government’s ability to cancel all student loan debt.
“I don't want to get ahead of myself… there is probably a reason that [canceling all student loan debt] hasn’t been done,” Foushee said. “For me to believe that I can come in day one and say, ‘Yes we can cancel all student debt’ … I don’t know how we’re going to do it.”
Foushee believes that the United States has a role to play in advancing democracy across the world, but is hesitant to support the use of military intervention to perform such a role. She also supports a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict, hoping to prioritize the assurance that human rights are protected.
Campaign finance controversy
Foushee’s campaign elicited controversy when Federal Elections Commissions records revealed that 54% of her campaign’s fundraising during the primary came from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a political action committee that supports pro-Israel candidates.
Foushee defeated Durham County Commissioner Nida Allam, the first Muslim woman to be elected to office in North Carolina, in the Democratic primary for the District.
Super PACs spent nearly $2.7 million to advertise on behalf of Foushee, making the primary election the most expensive Democratic congressional primary in North Carolina’s history.
“My campaign did not take funding from AIPAC. There were AIPAC members who donated to my campaign. That situation was not something I could control,” said Foushee. “[There] were supporters…that I learned who were members of AIPAC who have supported me since I was a school board candidate. Should I not have taken money from those same individuals who supported me as a school board candidate or a county commissioner or a state senator because I was not aware that they were supporters of this one issue organization?”
Foushee also threw her support behind getting money out of the political campaign system, saying that Citizens United v. FEC was “decided wrong.” She said that the AIPAC funding controversy ignored the fact that her campaign received more funding from inside North Carolina and the district than any other candidate.
“I would hope, and I do believe, that my 25 years of service to this community has value,” said Foushee. “I do believe that I was the most qualified, the most experienced, and the person in that list of candidates who has given more to this district than any other.”
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Jazper Lu is a Trinity junior and managing editor of The Chronicle's 119th volume.