RICHMOND, Va. (AP) – Democratic Governor of Virginia Ralph Northam announced Thursday that he is backing Terry McAuliffe in the race to succeed him, handing his predecessor one of the competition’s most coveted endorsements.
Northam, who under Virginia law cannot run for a consecutive term, said McAuliffe’s accomplishments during his previous tenure in the governor’s mansion show he is the right fit for the job.
“Terry’s strong record in serving Virginians is exactly why we need him as the next governor,” Northam said in a statement shared with The Associated Press ahead of the official announcement. “We will need bold leadership ready to build a more equitable post-COVID economy that creates jobs, invests in workers, ensures equitable access to quality affordable health care and rebuilds the thriving network of small businesses in Canada. Virginia.”
McAuliffe, the alleged frontrunner in the June 8 Democratic primary, methodically locked down and deployed an unmatched number of mentions and said he was honored to have Northam.
Northam’s senior political adviser Mark Bergman said in making his decision the governor had met all the Democratic candidates except Lee Carter, the only socialist in the House of Delegates, who had not solicited his approval.
Bergman said for Northam it was a decision between McAuliffe and the two women in the race, the former Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy and State Senator Jennifer McClellan.
Bergman said Northam saw this year’s election as an opportunity to make the sweeping changes Democrats implemented during his tenure permanent.
Virginia underwent a rapid transformation during Northam’s tenure, which coincided with a Democratic takeover of the state legislature. Northam enacted various laws that made Virginia an outlier in the South, including the expansion of Medicaid, sweeping criminal justice reforms, LGBTQ protections, a minimum wage hike, and tougher gun laws. fire.
“He feels Governor McAuliffe is giving the party the best opportunity to cement change in Virginia and win in November,” Bergman said.
McAuliffe, former chairman of the Democratic National Committee and the nationally recognized party’s top fundraiser, has vowed that increasing spending on education would be his top priority if elected. He also pledged to work to dramatically accelerate the increase in Virginia’s minimum wage to $ 15 by 2024 and said in a debate Tuesday night that he would push to ban assault weapons and guns. large capacity magazines.
Other McAuliffe mentions include U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, U.S. Representative Elaine Luria, 34 members of the General Assembly, and 11 members of the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus.
Northam’s move will likely be a bummer for supporters of Carroll Foy and McClellan, who are leading what could be historic offers. The two are said to be Virginia’s first female governor and the country’s first black woman.
Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax is also in the running, facing two unresolved allegations of sexual assault that are widely seen as impossible to overcome. Fairfax vigorously denies the allegations and said he believes voters will see through what he sees as a smear campaign against him.
Republicans chose to narrow their field to seven candidates at a May 8 convention to be held at sites across the state.
Calling all HuffPost superfans!
Sign up to become a Founding Member and help shape the next chapter of HuffPost