Virginia Rep. Abigail Spanberger, a Democrat, has told multiple people within her party that she intends to run in the commonwealth’s gubernatorial election in 2025.
The centrist Democrat has been preparing for a run for the governor’s office for months or even years but more recently began making her political ambitions clearer. Spanberger and one of her top political aides told four Democrats that she is planning to make a run for governor in the next election, POLITICO reported, citing people familiar with the conversations.
Spanberger’s team has also been speaking to congressional colleagues about her plans for a gubernatorial run, two Democratic lawmakers told the outlet.
Virginia’s current GOP Gov. Glenn Youngkin will vacate the governor’s mansion following the 2025 election because governors in the commonwealth may not serve consecutive terms.
An announcement from Spanberger would likely not come until after Virginia’s highly competitive state legislative elections this November. The congresswoman’s ambitions and the timeline for a potential announcement could hurt Democrats’ chances of retaking the U.S. House in 2024, as the party needs to hold onto the seat in Spanberger’s competitive district if they hope to win back control of the lower chamber.
President Biden won Spanberger’s district by six points in the 2020 presidential election.
Spanberger can run for reelection to her House seat and launch a campaign for governor after that election. But both the congresswoman and one of her aides told two Virginia Democrats last spring that she does not plan to seek a fourth term in Congress, two people familiar with those conversations told POLITICO.
‘As every Democrat in Virginia should be, Abigail is squarely focused on the 2023 General Assembly races,’ a spokesperson for Spanberger’s office told the outlet.
Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney and former Virginia House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn are among the other Democrats most likely to enter the governor’s race.
Spanberger, a powerful fundraiser, raised more than $9 million in the 2022 election cycle. But she only has $1.2 million in donor money in 2023 for her congressional reelection as of the end of June, according to POLITICO. And since Virginia has few limits on who can donate or how much, along with the commonwealth’s lax campaign finance laws, Spanberger can allocate funds raised for her congressional race to run for governor.
The former CIA officer first won her House seat by a narrow margin five years ago when she defeated GOP Rep. Dave Brat. She has been a leading moderate voice in the Democratic Party on fiscal reform, police funding and other issues.
Virginia holds primaries in June and some Democrats say they would prefer to have an open House seat in a presidential year instead of an unpredictable special election later in the event that Spanberger wins reelection next year and the governor’s race in 2025, when her congressional seat would be more vulnerable.
If Spanberger does vacate her House seat, there are several Democratic contenders expected to explore a run in her district, including former state Dels. Jennifer Carroll Foy and Hala Ayala, and state Sen. Jeremy McPike. For Republicans, businessman Bill Moher is the only one who has begun fundraising in the district.