U.S. Rep. Abigail Spanberger, a Democrat, announced Monday that she won’t run for reelection to her House seat next year and instead will run for Virginia governor in 2025.
“Our country and our commonwealth are facing fundamental threats, to our rights, to our freedoms and to our democracy,” Spanberger said in a video announcing the launch of her campaign. “While some politicians in Richmond focus on banning abortion and books, what they’re not doing is helping people. I know how to bring people together and get real things done that improve lives. That’s why I’m running for governor.”
Spanberger, a moderate former CIA agent who hails from one of Virginia’s most competitive House districts, joined Congress after ousting a Republican in 2018, a wave year for Democrats. She won reelection to a third term last year by a comfortable 4-point margin, following a much closer race in 2020.
Spanberger’s entry into the gubernatorial race, still two years away, comes after Democrats had a strong election showing in Virginia last week, keeping control of the House of Delegates and flipping the state Senate. Republicans, led by Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin, had vowed to enact a 15-week abortion ban in the commonwealth if handed full control of the legislature, further solidifying for Democrats — including Spanberger in her launch video — that preserving abortion rights is a key electoral issue.
Spanberger is the first person to enter the race to succeed Youngkin who, per Virginia law, cannot seek a second consecutive term for governor.
In 2022, Spanberger campaigned as a moderate in Virginia’s 7th Congressional District, which spans the suburbs and rural areas of northern and central Virginia, earning the endorsement of ex-GOP House member Liz Cheney. Spanberger has firmly supported Democratic priorities like abortion rights and green energy investment, while also railing against liberal efforts to “defund the police.” Even under Democratic leadership, her bill to ban members of Congress from trading individual stocks never made it to a floor vote.
Virginia’s 2021 gubernatorial race, which pitted Youngkin against ex-Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe, was the most expensive in state history, with the two candidates raising a combined $115 million.
Spanberger’s early entry into the race gives Democrats plenty of time to find a replacement for her in Virginia’s 7th district and to get her own fundraising efforts rolling in the governor’s race.