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Spanberger broadens support with Perriello endorsement

Charlottesville’s own Tom Perriello is giving a boost to Rep. Abigail Spanberger from the left in her bid for the Democratic Party’s nomination for governor in 2025.

Spanberger, a three-term Democratic congresswoman who represents the commonwealth’s 7th District and has sought to position herself politically as a centrist, already has the endorsement of former Gov. Ralph Northam, who defeated Perriello in the Democratic primary for governor in 2017, as well as a growing list of Democratic legislators and local government officials.

Perriello represented Virginia’s 5th District in the House of Representatives from 2009 to 2011.

“That’s a good sign for her,” said Larry Sabato, president of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia, after Spanberger announced the Perriello endorsement on Wednesday morning. “He’s known and he’s very much admired on the left.”

Currently, Spanberger is expected to face competition for the party nomination from Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney, a political protégé of former Gov. Terry McAuliffe, but political commentators say they wouldn’t be surprised to see additional candidates. Former House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn, a Fairfax Democrat, was planning a possible gubernatorial run but chose instead to run for the 10th District seat in Congress in an effort to succeed retiring Democratic Rep. Jennifer Wexton of Virginia’s 10th.

Perriello served one term in the House of Representatives from 2009 to 2011 after defeating Republican Rep. Virgil Goode of the 5th District, a six-term congressman who began his career as a conservative Democrat from rural Southside Virginia, but later became an independent and then a Republican. Robert Hurt, then a state senator from Chatham, defeated Perriello in 2010 and served three terms before leaving Congress in 2017, and Republicans have dominated the red-hued 5th Congressional District ever since.

“I’m fired up that we Virginians will have a chance to elect Abigail Spanberger as our next governor!” Perriello said in the announcement by Spanberger’s campaign. “Abigail is a leader whose service record demonstrates her willingness to do what is difficult to put her community, commonwealth and country first.”

“She’s taken on the special interests to deliver cheaper prescription drugs, expanded broadband access and made investments in green jobs,” he said. “She’s been a bulwark for our fundamental freedoms while also building bridges to fight political corruption and attacks on our democracy.”

Perriello, 49, who grew up in the Charlottesville area, served in two diplomatic posts under then-President Barack Obama after losing his congressional seat.

In the 2017 Democrat primary for governor, major Democratic donor Michael Bills backed Northam, while his wife, donor and philanthropist Sonjia Smith, backed Perriello. Bills would found Clean Virginia in 2018.

After losing the gubernatorial nomination to Northam, Perriello led Win Virginia, a Democratic political action committee that helped the party flip 15 seats in the Republican-controlled House of Delegates in 2017.

In 2018, he became executive director of U.S. programs for the Open Society Foundations, a grant-making network founded by international financier George Soros to promote democracy, criminal justice reform and equitable growth for communities of color and immigrants. He left the job in July.

Perriello headed a group of 14 state and local officials who endorsed Spanberger on Wednesday. The group also includes Del. Mark Sickles, a Fairfax Democrat, who will serve in prominent leadership roles for the new Democratic majority in the House of Delegates, including as chair of the Health and Human Services Committee.


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