Believe it or not, we’re just over one year away from the 2021 Democratic primaries for Governor, Lt. Governor and Attorney General of Virginia. Yes, time flies when you’re having fun. Or something like that. 😉 Anyway, at this point, the candidates on the Democratic side who are listed in VPAP as having filed for one of those three offices are:
- Governor: Attorney General Mark Herring – who might or might not run – and Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy (also, likely candidates include former Gov. Terry McAuliffe, Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax and State Sen. Jennifer McClellan)
- Lt. Governor: Nobody so far (it’s not clear who the possible candidates are, but prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, it looked like there could be a bunch…who knows now?).
- Attorney General: Nobody so far (although Del. Jay Jones announced yesterday that he’s “exploring” a run; Henrico County Commonwealth’s Attorney Shannon Taylor; House Majority Leader Charniele Herring; and AG Mark Herring are three other possible candidates)
Now, according to the Washington Post (“Covid-19 puts crimp in 2021 race for Virginia governor”), as well as to chatter by Virginia politicos, the 2021 statewide cycle seems to be getting off to something of a slow start. If true, this “crimp” is probably due to a combination of COVID-19 both preventing candidates from holding kickoffs/campaign events, and also sucking much of the media “oxygen” (metaphorically, if not physically) from the political “room.” Also, candidates *could* be waiting to see the results of the 2020 presidential election, as that will have a major impact on the 2021 playing field here in Virginia.
But is it actually the case that the 2021 statewide campaign season is off to a slow start, historically speaking? It’s hard to measure exactly, but one thing we can look at is how the current list of Democratic candidates compares to previous Virginia cycles. So…see below for a lits of when Democratic candidates announced in 2009, 2013, and 2017, and how that would equate to 2021.
- Creigh Deeds announced for governor on December 13, 2007 (the equivalent this cycle would have been December 13, 2019)
- Brian Moran announced his intent to run at about the same time as Creigh Deeds (ditto)
- Terry McAuliffe waited to announce until January 3, 2009, although his candidacy had been rumored for months (the equivalent this cycle would be January 3, 2021)
- Jody Wagner announced her campaign for Lt. Governor on August 17, 2008 (the equivalent this cycle would be August 17, 2020)
- Jon Bowerbank announced key hires for his Lt. Governor campaign on July 29, 2008 (the equivalent this cycle would be July 29, 2020)
- Michael Signer filed his candidacy for Lt. Governor in February 2009 (the equivalent this cycle would be February 2021)
- Steve Shannon was clearly running for Attorney General by the fall of 2008 (the equivalent this cycle would be the fall of 2020)
- Terry McAuliffe announced his candidacy for governor on November 8, 2012 (the equivalent this cycle would be November 8, 2020)
- Ralph Northam announced his candidate for Lt. Governor on December 6, 2012 (the equivalent this cycle would be December 6, 2020)
- Aneesh Chopra announced his bid for Lt. Governor on July 13, 2012 (the equivalent this cycle would be July 13, 2020)
- Mark Herring announced for Attorney General on July 24, 2012 (the equivalent this cycle would be July 24, 2020)
- Justin Fairfax announced his candidate for Attorney General on September 26, 2012 (or possibly earlier – the equivalent this cycle would be September 26, 2020)
- Ralph Northam announced his candidacy for governor on November 17, 2015 (the equivalent this cycle would be November 17, 2019)
- Tom Perriello announced his candidacy for governor on January 4, 2017 (the equivalent this cycle would be January 4, 2021)
- Justin Fairfax announced his candidacy for Lt. Governor on May 2, 2016 (the equivalent this cycle would be May 2, 2020)
- Susan Platt announced her candidacy for Lt. Governor on January 24, 2017 (the equivalent this cycle would be January 24, 2021)
- Gene Rossi announced his candidacy for Lt. Governor on August 7, 2016 (the equivalent this cycle would be August 7, 2020)
So, it looks like most Democratic candidates for statewide office generally have announced either in the summer or fall of the preceding year (in this case, that would be summer/fall 2020), with a few announcing even earlier and a few waiting until early in the statewide election year. Based on that, we actually don’t really seem to be particularly “crimped” compared to previous years, at least in terms of candidates’ campaign announcements, even if it’s quieter on the campaigns front this time around and/or everyone’s focused on COVID-19.
Where it really *does* seem “crimped” is on the Republican side, where so far it’s mostly been State Sen. Amanda Chase making a ton of noise in her campaign for governor. Other than that, though, I’m not aware of any other Republicans announcing 2021 candidacies so far. Which, of course, does *not* mean that potential candidates aren’t maneuvering and/or preparing behind the scenes. Also, could they be waiting to see who wins the presidential election in November before siding? Because, if Trump (god forbid) wins reelection, it’s hard to see how any Republican can win statewide in Virginia in 2021. On the other hand, if Joe Biden wins, then perhaps a statewide Republican might have a chance in 2021?