Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe said Wednesday he will forgo a 2020 presidential bid and instead focus on boosting Democrats in Virginia’s legislative elections later this year.
The move could be a huge boost for those state Democrats, who are reeling from scandals plaguing current Gov. Ralph Northam, Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax and Attorney General Mark Herring.
“After months of thinking long and hard about how I could best serve our country and our party, I have decided that that I can do the most good and affect the most change here at home - working my heart out to elect Democrats in the Commonwealth of Virginia,” Mr. McAuliffe said on Twitter.
His move comes at a crucial time. Early reports show Mr. Northam and the other top statewide Democrats struggling to raise money, leaving the party in trouble as it prepares to contest all 40 state Senate seats and all 100 House seats.
Democrats have a chance to claim control of both chambers for the first time in more than 20 years, but there is a growing fear that the blackface and rape scandals engulfing the party leadership could scuttle that.
Mr. McAuliffe was governor from 2012 through 2016, and oversaw a continued shift in Virginia politics as the state moved from reliably conservative to toss-up to now, where it trends toward Democrats at the national and statewide level.
State Democrats sighed with relief over Mr. McAuliffe’s announcement that he would focus on helping them.
“Virginia needs Terry McAuliffe,” said Susan Swecker, chair of the Democratic Party of Virginia, adding that “there is no one better at delivering the Democratic message in the commonwealth.”