Abigail Spanberger announces 2025 governor bid for Virginia

  • November 14, 2023

Democrats are keen to reclaim the governorship after losing it to Republican Glenn Youngkin

US Representative Abigail Spanberger walks through an underground tunnel on her way to the House floor.—Reuters 

Democratic Rep Abigail Spanberger has officially launched her candidacy for the governorship of Virginia in 2025, simultaneously confirming that she will not seek reelection 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 year’s end. 

While Republicans are yet to field a candidate, potential contenders include Lt. Gov. Winsome Sears and Attorney General Jason Miyares.

Democrats are keen to reclaim the governorship after losing it to Republican Glenn Youngkin in the recent election cycle. Youngkin’s victory, however, did not translate into success for the GOP in the state legislative elections last week. Virginia’s unique term limit prevents Youngkin from seeking reelection in 2025.

Spanberger’s decision not to pursue a fourth term in Congress may pose challenges for Democrats in retaining the competitive 7th District in 2024. 

However, it avoids the complication of a mid-winter special election in 2026 if she were to win another House term and then secure the governor’s position 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, she has consistently maintained her position.

Spanberger’s district became more favourable for Democrats after a court-ordered redrawing following the 2020 census.

Known for her moderate stance, Spanberger garnered attention for critiquing fellow Democrats who embraced “socialist” labels or calls to “defund the police” after the party lost seats in the House in 2020. 

A proficient fundraiser, she had $1.4 million in her House campaign account at the end of September, providing an initial advantage over potential rival Stoney, who controls a PAC with $340,000.

Spanberger’s bid for the Virginia governorship underscores the Democrats’ determination to reclaim the state’s executive office in the upcoming election.

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