Dr. Bob on the end of Mayor Stoney's run for Virginia governor: 'It was going to be a real uphill climb'

Posted at 5:59 PM, Apr 23, 2024

RICHMOND, Va. -- Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney will no longer be running for governor in 2025 but will instead run for the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor.

"I imagine that it will be tough," said Stoney. "But I know one thing coming from this campaign, we're going to be all positive talking about how we can go about lifting people up all across the Commonwealth, to ensure working families get a fair shot, whether they live in Abingdon or whether they live in Accomack."

At a bank ribbon-cutting ceremony Tuesday, Stoney spoke about the economic growth he said his administration has brought to the city.

But hours earlier, the campaign for his next job switched gears, announcing he will no longer battle Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, but will aim for Virginia's second-highest office instead.

According to our political analyst, it was the right move.

"I think for the mayor what it was, was really an acknowledgment of reality here," said Dr. Bob Holsworth. "Abigail Spanberger has been elected in two separate congressional districts in different parts of the state, she's raised a ton of money, and she's got a lot of endorsements. It was going to be a real uphill climb for Mayor Stoney."

Dr. Bob and Bill Fitzgerald

But while in his announcement Stoney said he wanted to avoid a costly, damaging, in-house fight in the governor's race, his new challenge promises to be just that.

"It's going to be a hotly contested race," Holsworth said. "There are going to be many candidates. In fact, there are going to be far more than two candidates in that race. There's going to be at least four, and there could five or six."

One of Stoney's chief competitors is State Sen. Aaron Rouse, who has the backing of much of the Hampton Roads state house delegation, including many who backed Stoney as a candidate for governor. Rouse said he is not paying attention to Stoney's new candidacy but is focused on his own run.

"Listen, I'm a fighter, and I will continue to continue to fight for all Virginians in our Commonwealth," Rouse said Tuesday. "From southwest Virginia to central Virginia to northern Virginia. And right here in Hampton Roads, I've shown that I will protect women's rights, that I will stand against Republicans trying to rollback those rights. I'm a proud product of the public education system here in Virginia."

As he launches a new race, left unsaid so far at least, is whether Stoney will endorse Spanberger.

"I think Congresswoman Spanberger is an excellent candidate running for governor," Stoney told me. "There will be a time and place to talk about endorsements, whether endorsements from my campaign or endorsements from hers. So we haven't gotten there yet, but we will certainly get there."

In addition to Stoney and Rouse, Prince William County School Board Chair and physician Babur Lateef is also running for the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor.

As for Spanberger's response to Stoney's announcement, her campaign did not mention him by name but said, "Virginians are uniting behind her candidacy."

As for Republican candidates for statewide offices in 2025, no candidates have filed so far.

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