- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 12, 2009

RICHMOND | Virginia Democratic Party Chairman C. Richard Cranwell has reversed plans to leave this year, telling state party leaders Wednesday that he will seek a new term.

His letter to members of the party’s governing central committee comes as their Republican counterparts gird for a vote next month to oust their embattled party chairman, Jeff Frederick.

Mr. Cranwell said last year that he would depart as chairman this year after a single, four-year term.

The Roanoke attorney and former state House majority leader briefly considered a race for lieutenant governor this year but abandoned that idea in December.

In Wednesday’s letter to the committee, he cited the importance of Virginia’s nationally watched race for governor as the reason for his about-face. “After talking to a number of Democratic leaders, I have decided to submit my name as a candidate for re-election,” he wrote.

He noted the aggressive three-way Democratic primary in June - the victor of which will face former Attorney General Bob McDonnell, a well-funded Republican unchallenged for his party’s gubernatorial nomination.

“This November, we will face a stark choice between one of three qualified Democrats who will continue to move Virginia forward, and a Republican candidate who threatens to move us back to the failed days of the [James] Gilmore administration,” Mr. Cranwell wrote.

He also tossed in a dig at the chaos and conflict surrounding the state Republican leadership and contrasted it with the prospect of his staying at the helm of a Democratic Party that won three important statewide elections and took control of the state Senate on his watch.

“Hopefully, my decision is a reflection of stability within the party and confidence in our message and values rooted in the middle class,” he said.

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