Levar Stoney Named Executive Director of Va. Dems

By Broadside Staff Reporter Robert Dongu

Recently, Levar Stoney acquired a title that not too many people have during their twenties: executive director of a political campaign.

The 2004 James Madison University graduate became executive director of the Virginia Democratic Party on Feb.11, making him the first African-American to occupy the position in the state’s history.

Since graduating from college, Stoney quickly rose through the ranks of the Virginia Democratic Party, becoming the state party’s political director in 2006, which followed the departure of Amy Reger.

“My overall long-term goal is to continue building the Party, making it a lasting operational institution that elects Democrats for years to come,” Stoney said in an e-mail.

Although Stoney took office six days after the Virginia primaries, he expressed satisfaction in the Democratic turnout on Election Day.

“[Democrats] came out to vote in droves,” Stoney said. “Nearly a million people voted in the Democratic primary, which shows that Virginians are ready for real change in the White House.”

In his role as executive director, Stoney said he is involved in everything “from fundraising to political outreach.”

“I'll have my hands in just about everything,” said Stoney, who mentioned that he oversees 13 staff members as executive director.

Stoney’s rise to the upper levels of the Virginia Democratic Party is as impressive as it was unlikely.

According to The Breeze, JMU’s student newspaper, Stoney was born to a 15-year-old mother in Long Island, N.Y.
When he was in first grade, his family moved to Yorktown, Va., where he was raised primarily by his grandmother because his father worked around the clock to support the family.

Stoney became active in student government during this period, serving as student body president in middle school and high school.

Stoney continued to serve the student body in college, becoming student government association president at JMU.
After making the transition from college to the political pros, Stoney is seen as a young star in Virginia Democratic politics.

George Burke, Communications Director of the Fairfax County Democratic Committee, said that Stoney is an up-and-coming figure in the state’s political scene.

“He brings a wealth of knowledge,” Burke said. “We expect Levar to play an [important] role in some big Democratic victories.”

Stoney said that garnering the support of the college-aged crowd is one of his goals as executive director.

“Young people are engaged and … care about politics and how it impacts their future,” Stoney said. “The Democratic Party of Virginia needs the energy and new ideas students bring.”

While Stoney hopes to get more college students involved in the political process, Mason Chief of Staff Thomas Hennessey said the executive director of a political party plays an indirect role in college communities.

“The only connection Mason might have with any political party [executive director] is through personal relationships,” Hennessey said in an e-mail. “We have a number of students that work on campaigns, both Republican and Democratic, that [also] work with the leadership of the state parties.

“Political party power is really held by the elected officials who lead the Party in the state,” Hennessey said. “The executive director acts on their behalf, organizes activities for the Party and generally conducts the business of the Party.”

Although the presidential election is nearing, much of Stoney’s focus is on gaining political ground for Democrats in state government.

“Next year, we want to elect a Democratic governor and win back the House of Delegates,” Stoney said.

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