Democratic Representative Abigail Spanberger has officially announced her candidacy for Governor of Virginia in 2025, while also confirming that she will not run for re-election to the House next year.
Spanberger’s entry into the gubernatorial race sets the stage for a potential primary battle with Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney, who is expected to announce his campaign by the end of the year.
While Republicans have not yet fielded a candidate, potential contenders include Lieutenant Governor Winsome Sears and Attorney General Jason Miyares.
The Democrat is seeking to regain the governorship after losing to Republican Glenn Youngkin in the recent election cycle. However, Youngkin’s victory did not translate into success for the GOP in state legislative elections last week. Virginia’s unique term limits prevent Youngkin from running for re-election in 2025.
Spanberger’s decision not to seek a fourth term in Congress could create challenges for Democrats in retaining the competitive 7th District in 2024.
However, this avoids the complication of a mid-winter special election in 2026 if he were to win another House term and then secure the governorship the following year.
The congresswoman, a former CIA officer, first secured her seat in 2018 by defeating GOP Rep. Dave Brat. Despite facing close contests, including a smear campaign, he has consistently maintained his position.
Spanberger’s district became more favorable to Democrats after court-ordered redistricting following the 2020 census.
Known for her liberal stances, Spanberger drew attention for criticizing fellow Democrats who adopted the “socialist” label or called for “defunding the police” after the party lost seats in the House in 2020.
An adept fundraiser, she had $1.4 million in her House campaign account at the end of September, giving her an early advantage over potential rival Stoney, who controls a PAC with $340,000.
Spanberger’s bid for the Virginia governorship underscores Democrats’ determination to reclaim the state executive office in the upcoming election.