Mar 9, 2023 - Politics

Who's (already) running for Virginia governor

Illustration of two hands fighting over a torn ballot.

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

The gubernatorial whisper campaigns are getting louder.

What's happening: The 2025 campaign is still two full election cycles away, but for would-be candidates, that just means more time to jockey for position, attention and money, right?

Driving the news: Former House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn, the first woman to serve in the role, announced this week she isn't seeking re-election to the House and is considering a run for governor.

State of play: Filler-Corn joins a crowded field of potential Democratic candidates, all of whom have recently launched fundraising PACs hinting at their ambition.

  • Mayor Levar Stoney has been eyeing a run for governor for his entire tenure in Richmond and is said to be all in on 2025.
  • Rep. Abigail Spanberger is considering a run but hasn't made up her mind.
  • As is former Rep. Elaine Luria, who, like Spanberger, would bring centrist, swing district credentials.

What we're hearing: "The Richmond consensus is that if Spanberger runs, she would be the favorite," one party insider tells Axios.

Down the ticket, former Del. Jay Jones is planning a second run for attorney general. We hear he may face a challenge from Henrico Commonwealth's Attorney Shannon Taylor and Fairfax Commonwealth's Attorney Steve Descano — both card-carrying "progressive prosecutors."

  • And so far, no one seems to be clamoring to line up for lieutenant governor.

On the GOP side, for now the only names being thrown out for governor are Lt. Gov. Winsome Earle-Sears and Attorney General Jason Miyares.

  • Rumors to the contrary notwithstanding, Earle-Sears is not interested in a run for Senate next year against Sen. Tim Kaine, a source familiar with her thinking tells Axios.

👀 The intrigue: Earle-Sears, who has an autobiography coming out this summer, so far appears to be the more popular of the two options among Virginia Republicans.

  • A poll conducted by Differentiators Data last month of 500 likely GOP primary voters found Sears leading Miyares in a hypothetical 2025 matchup by 31 points.
  • The survey had a margin of error of +/- 4.5%.

What's next: Expect candidates' 2025 plans to start firming up after this year's General Assembly elections.


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