Former Governor Terry McAuliffe filed paperwork to run for governor in 2021, joining field of four other Democrats and another four Republicans who have filed or declared serious interest in running in the 2021 primary.
Strategist and Democratic political pundit Ben Tribbett told The Virginia Star that filing to run is not the same as an official declaration as Virginia does not allow exploratory committees.
“When people say they’re exploring a run for office, they either have to form a political action committee and raise money through that, or they have to file a real committee,” Tribbett said.
Meanwhile, McAuliffe spokesman Brennan Bilberry told the Associated Press, “Governor McAuliffe is making no decisions on 2021 until after we defeat Donald Trump and his hateful ideology.”
Democrats who have filed or announced their candidacy for the gubernatorial nomination include Delegate Jennifer Carroll Foy (D-Woodbridge), Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax, Attorney General Mark Herring, and Senator Jennifer McClellan (D-Richmond).
However Senator Amanda Chase (R-Colonial Heights) is the only official candidate for the Republican primary as of press time. Delegate Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights), former Senator Bill Carrico (R-Grayson), and businessman Pete Snyder have also expressed interest in the primary.
Tribbett noted that the 2020 presidential election will define the 2021 Virginia governor’s race. Normally, the party that holds the presidency loses the governor’s seat. If that president is Trump, Tribbett said, Republicans may struggle even more.
“When Trump’s president, the problem that down-ballot Republicans have is that he really doesn’t allow them to create separation from him. You’re either all-in or you’re out of the family,” Tribbett said. “A successful Republican candidate is going to have to create separation.”
The Democratic field is also waiting to see who is elected president.
After November, Tribbett said the candidates should start to differentiate themselves on ideology. “I haven’t seen a lot of issue contrast yet,” said the veteran strategist noted. “I haven’t seen a lot of differences in the actual policy, I’ve just seen a difference in how they want to approach the fight so far.”
Tribbett warned that despite the Democratic lead in Virginia, Republicans are still dangerous.
“This is a blue-leaning state but it is not a dark blue state,” Tribbett said. “You have to fight this out next year treating if as it is a competitive race, and you’re going to have to go win a competitive election.”
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