Virginia Rep. Abigail Spanberger is running for governor instead of seeking reelection to the House

Posted at 8:17 AM, Nov 13, 2023
and last updated 2023-11-13 18:16:47-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- U.S. Rep. Abigail Spanberger announced Monday she will run for Virginia governor in 2025 instead of seeking reelection to the U.S. House next year.

Spanberger, a three-term Democrat, made the announcement in a campaign video, highlighting the importance of lowering prescription drug prices, growing the middle class and easing inflation. In a video titled “What Matters Most,” Spanberger also emphasized the importance of recruiting and retaining teachers “and stopping extremists from shredding women’s reproductive rights.”

“Our country and our Commonwealth are facing fundamental threats to our rights, our freedoms, and to our democracy,” Spanberger said. “While some politicians in Richmond focus on banning abortion and books, what they’re not doing is helping people.”

Spanberger represents Virginia’s 7th Congressional District, a key swing seat in northern Virginia that will be up for election next year. Her decision not to seek reelection in the House could lead to a competitive Democratic primary in the 7th. A handful of Republican candidates have also already announced campaigns.

The former CIA officer and law enforcement officer for the U.S. Postal Service won her first congressional race in a district that had been held by Republicans for almost 50 years.

The Commonwealth prohibits its governors from serving consecutive terms. That’s led to intense speculation about Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s next political move, as well as early jockeying in effective shadow campaigns for the chief executive’s office.

As for other potential gubernatorial candidates, Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney, a Democrat, is expected to announce campaign plans soon.

CBS 6 Political Analyst Dr. Bob Holsworth said between the two of them, he sees Spanberger as the front runner.

"She's been elected to the Congress three different elections, but she'd been elected in two different districts. One that was really basically western Henrico and Chesterfield and then a second district that's up in Prince William, Stafford, and Spotsylvania. So, she comes into this race with a pretty expansive constituency. So, that's her first strength," said Holsworth. "Her second strength is that in all of these races, she's put together, not only a really good sound political operation, well-coordinated, but she has hundreds of volunteers, people who really like her, work extraordinarily hard."

Holsworth said among Stoney's strengths are his connections to within the Democratic party, including former Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe and the fundraising capabilities associated with that.

"I think the one issue that some people will be looking for is how well does she run on and mobilizing the African American community, which is not a place where she's actually had to gain the majority of her votes down the road. And African American voters will probably make 30 to 40% of a Democratic primary," Holsworth added. "It's hard to say that she doesn't come into this race as the favorite. Again, anything can happen in a primary. We've seen favorites collapse time and again, but I think there are a lot of Democrats who are very enthusiastic about the fact that she's coming into this race, because she'd probably not only be the favorite in the primary, but if she wins, she's likely to be the favorite coming into the general election as well."

Among Republicans, Attorney General Jason Miyares and Lt. Gov. Winsome Earle-Sears are widely seen in political circles as likely contenders. Neither has publicly committed to a run, and both have also said they were focused on this year’s legislative races.

However, Miyares did respond to Spanberger's announcement on X, formerly Twitter.

"The last thing Virginia needs is another far left DC politician who votes 100% of the time with Joe Biden, voted to reduce penalties on violent crime, and voted to add trillions of dollars of new spending - creating our nation’s inflation crisis," wrote Miyares. "Virginia has made remarkable strides the past two years bringing common sense, conservative leadership to Richmond focused on helping working families afford their groceries and keep more of their paychecks, raising educational standards in our schools, and supporting our law enforcement to build safer communities."

Outgoing Republican state Sen. Amanda Chase may also run. Chase, who lost a June primary and ran unsuccessfully for her party’s nomination for governor in 2021, said she’s ruled out running for the U.S. Senate next year and is contemplating another run for governor or lieutenant governor, characterizing the latter of those two as more likely.

Last month, former Virginia House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn announced she would not run for governor in 2025 and will instead run next year to represent the competitive northern Virginia congressional seat being vacated by a fellow Democrat, U.S. Rep. Jennifer Wexton.

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