Abigail Spanberger, a former CIA officer and Democratic representative, has declared her intention to run for Virginia governor in 2025. Spanberger, known for clashing with her party’s leadership and taking moderate positions, will become the first candidate to enter the race, giving Democrats ample time to recruit candidates for her vacated congressional seat. Her early announcement is expected to spur other candidates from both parties to join the race, setting the stage for an intense and well-funded contest.
Spanberger’s Background and Political Journey:
Born in New Jersey, Abigail Spanberger moved to Virginia and worked for the CIA from 2006 to 2014, where she recruited foreign spies. In the 2018 elections, she won the swing district’s seat and unseated Republican Dave Brat. Spanberger, a working mother with a background in federal law enforcement, appealed to both independent and moderate Republican voters in her swing district. She managed to strike a balance between progressive policies and bipartisan appeal, making her a well-regarded figure within her constituency.
Political Positions and Critiques:
Throughout her tenure in the House, Spanberger has aligned with liberals on certain issues, while occasionally pushing back against the party’s left wing. She has been a vocal advocate for abortion rights but criticized the Democrat-led “defund the police” rhetoric in 2020. Additionally, Spanberger has shown independence from party leadership, as she did not support Nancy Pelosi for House speaker and publicly rebuked her handling of legislation related to banning stock trading by members of Congress. She has been critical of her party’s messaging and negotiating tactics during President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda.
Campaign Video and Priorities:
In her campaign video titled “What Matters Most,” Spanberger positions herself as a public servant who can effectively work across the aisle in a highly polarized Washington. She highlights issues such as supporting veterans, and small businesses, and combating addiction. She opposes conservative culture wars and vows to protect women’s reproductive rights. Spanberger emphasizes the need to rise above division and focus on matters crucial to Virginians, including lowering prescription drug prices, strengthening the middle class, addressing inflation, and prioritizing education.
Implications for the 2025 Governor’s Race:
Spanberger’s entrance into the 2025 gubernatorial race significantly ahead of Election Day provides Democrats with an advantage in recruiting candidates for her soon-to-be-vacated congressional seat. Politicians such as Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney are already considering bids for the Democratic nomination, while Republicans like Lt. Gov. Winsome Earle-Sears and Attorney General Jason S. Miyares are expected to compete for their party’s nod. Spanberger’s decision to run sets the stage for what is anticipated to be a well-funded and rigorous campaign, following the record-breaking spending of the 2021 Virginia gubernatorial race.