NORFOLK, Va. - Former Va. Gov. Terry McAuliffe is the latest in a growing number of candidates to announce a run for governor in 2021.
There are now four Democrats and two Republicans who have officially entered the race.
McAuliffe officially entered the race on Wednesday morning in Richmond following months of speculation. He served as the 72nd governor from 2014 to 2018 and left office to positive approval ratings.
"I am running for governor again to think big and be bold and to take the Commonwealth of Virginia to the next level and to lift up all Virginians," he said.
He was joined by supporters including Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney and Portsmouth State Sen. Louise Lucas. Lucas introduced him as "the former and future governor of Virginia."
"People like Louise Lucas, the most prominent African American legislator in the state's history, and others came to me and asked me to run, so I've gotten broad support of people who said, 'We need you back,'" McAuliffe said in an interview with News 3.
Virginia is the only state in the nation that doesn't let governors run for re-election, but they can run for non-consecutive terms. A governor has only been elected twice in modern history one time.
Among Democrats, McAuliffe has three opponents right now, including Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, State Sen. Jennifer McClellan and Jennifer Carroll Foy. Foy is resigning as a state delegate to focus on the governor's race.
"McAuliffe is obviously the heavy hitter in the field right now," said Dr. Quentin Kidd, a political scientist at Christopher Newport University.
Kidd expects McAuliffe to raise a lot of money and emerge as the front runner in next June's primary. "It's no surprise to me that he wants to get back there," said Kidd. "On the other hand, we're at a time and a place in our society right now where there's a thirst for women and women of color for example to be in leadership positions."
On the Republican side, two lawmakers have announced they're running with other names being floated. Del. Kirk Cox is the former Speaker of the House of Delegates. Right wing State Sen. Amanda Chase announced her candidacy earlier this year, but has threatened to run as an independent because the Republican Party of Virginia decided to hold a nominating convention to pick their nominee instead of a primary.
"If Amanda Chase is running as an independent and not a Republican, then she's going to take what would be Republican votes away from whomever the Republican candidate is," said Kidd. "That's just going to make their job that much tougher."
As for McAuliffe, he announced his education plan during his announcement. He's calling for a $2 billion investment in education, which he says he can accomplish without raising taxes on families. He's hoping eight years after his first election voters will support him once again.
"We have to build what I call that post-COVID economy. I had this challenge last time with sequestration and the great recession," said McAuliffe. "It's challenging and exciting, and I believe that I can get it done."