Updated Nov 13, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Rep. Spanberger announces run for Virginia governor as 2025 race takes shape

They're running. Photos: Win McNamee/Getty Images and Ned Oliver/Axios

Democratic candidates for the 2025 Virginia governor's race are already lining up.

What's happening: U.S. Rep. Abigail Spanberger announced her candidacy for the race Monday.

  • "I'm a former CIA case officer, former federal agent, current Member of Congress, and mom to three great kids," She said in a campaign video. "I know that when we rise above the chaos and division, we can focus on what matters most to Virginians."

Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney also plans to enter the race "by the end of the year," per Politico, which broke news Thursday that he has already begun lining up key campaign staff.

Why it matters: The race is still two years away, but Spanberger and Stoney are likely to be among the biggest names in the Democratic primary field.

Between the lines: The early entrances likely reflect the rising cost of gubernatorial races in Virginia, per the Washington Post, which notes Terry McAuliffe spent $69 million last time around and Gov. Glenn Youngkin raised $68 million.

  • Spanberger's announcement also gives Democrats a longer runway to recruit candidates to replace her in the state's 7th Congressional District.

The intrigue: Spanberger is the early favorite, per observers, who note the 44-year-old former CIA officer is well known in both the Northern Virginia and Richmond media markets.

  • Stoney, a longtime aide to McAuliffe who served in the former governor's cabinet, has never run for office outside the city, though he is well connected within the state party apparatus.

What we're watching: Observers also note the awkward timing of Stoney's pre-announcement announcement, which came days after city voters once again rejected the casino gambling referendum he championed.

  • "The mayor needs a win in the next year to be more viable as a candidate for governor, and I'm not sure where he gets it," Mary Washington University political scientist Stephen Farnsworth told the Times-Dispatch.

🐘 Zoom out: Chatter on the Republican side has been muted, but both Lt. Gov. Winsome Earle-Sears and Attorney General Jason Miyares are said to be considering runs.

Editor's note: This story was updated after Spanberger announced her candidacy.

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