Apr 23, 2024 - News

Stoney drops bid for governor and will run for lieutenant governor

Photo illustration of Abigail Spanberger and Levar Stoney.

Photo illustration: Axios Visuals. Photos: Samuel Corum/Getty Images and Carlos Bernate/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Mayor Levar Stoney is dropping his bid for the 2025 Democratic nomination for Virginia governor and will instead run for lieutenant governor, his campaign announced Tuesday.

State of play: Stoney was facing a difficult primary against fellow Democrat Rep. Abigail Spanberger in the race to succeed Gov. Youngkin next year.

While the June 2025 gubernatorial primary is more than a year away, Stoney dropping out makes it even more likely Spanberger will take the nomination, AP reports.

  • She's seen as a "formidable candidate" by both parties due to her name recognition, centrist politics and record of winning races, per AP.
  • And if she wins the nomination and the race, she'd be Virginia's first female governor.

Why it matters: The mayor of Richmond won't have an easy road to the nomination for lieutenant governor either. Other announced or potential candidates have already lined up support from prominent Democrats, per the Washington Post.

Zoom in: The Democrats Stoney will run against for lieutenant governor include:

  • State Sen. Aaron Rouse from Virginia Beach, who also announced his run Tuesday.
  • Babur Lateef, a Northern Virginia eye surgeon and chair of the Prince William County School Board. Lateef has already been endorsed by former Gov. Terry McAuliffe, Stoney's mentor and former boss who had endorsed the mayor in his race for governor, per the Post. Now McAuliffe, whose daughter Sally serves as Stoney's political director, will support both candidates, his spokesperson told the Post.
  • And state Sen. Ghazala Hashmi from Chesterfield who is rumored to be preparing to announce.

No Republican has announced a lieutenant governor bid yet, but WRVA radio conservative morning talk show host John Reid told listeners in March he was considering a run, the Times-Dispatch reported.

What he's saying: "After careful consideration with my family, I believe that the best way to ensure that all Virginia families do get the change they deserve is for our party to come together, avoid a costly and damaging primary and, for me to run instead for lieutenant governor," Stoney said in a statement.

Zoom out: Stoney, who is serving his second four-year term as Richmond mayor, announced his bid for governor in December, nearly a month after Spanberger.

  • Spanberger has raised just over $3.6 million compared to the mayor's $750,000, according to the latest campaign finance reports.

What's next: Lt. Gov. Winsome Earle-Sears and Attorney General Jason Miyares are both said to be considering runs for the Republican gubernatorial nominations, but neither has announced yet.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with additional details.

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