Former Virginia Governor Will Not Join 2020 Presidential Race

by | April 18, 2019 AT 7:43 AM

By Saleen Martin

Former Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe announced Wednesday night that he's not running for president and is instead focusing on making sure Virginia Democrats win the House and the Senate.

He made the announcement during an appearance on CNN's Cuomo Prime Time.

The former chairman of the Democratic National Committee neither confirmed nor denied that he's running for governor, but said he'll spend the next six months coordinating campaigns.

"We've got to win the House and Senate because we can change it," McAuliffe said. "We can take it to the next level."

He said he's going to work to make sure Virginia votes blue and re-elects Senator Mark Warner. He also expressed support for Reps. Jennifer Wexton, Abigail Spanberger and Elaine Luria.

In September, McAuliffe told The Associated Press he wasn't ruling out a presidential run.

He also hinted at it last week by tweeting a meme that left some Twitter users confused. The photo depicted a crab named after himself with raised claws sitting on top of an alligator labeled "Donald Trump."

"If I could wrestle an 8 ft, 280 lb (alligator), I certainly would have no problem with you know who," McAuliffe wrote in a separate tweet.

Sen. L. Louise Lucas (D-Portsmouth) told The Washington Post that she asked McAuliffe not to run. Instead, she said, she has asked him three times to run for governor.

With Gov. Ralph Northam's blackface scandal in February and sexual assault allegations against Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, Lucas told The Post she believes McAuliffe can help Democrats get "back to some form of normalcy."

Members of the Republican Party of Virginia also weighed in on the decision in an emailed statement Wednesday night.

"Terry McAuliffe would be Hillary Clinton 2.0, a creature of Washington D.C., hopelessly out-of-touch with regular Americans," said executive director John Findlay in the statement. "We hope McAuliffe decides to run and subsequently wins the nomination. He will end up just like Hillary; whining, complaining, and playing the blame game years after he is demolished by President Donald Trump."

Del. Eileen Filler-Corn (D-Fairfax) tweeted support for McAuliffe, saying he'd have made a "formidable candidate for President."

"His experience, enthusiasm and desire for Democrats to take over the VA House and Senate will be welcomed as we head into our important elections this November," she said in the tweet.

McAuliffe thanked his supporters and said he'd love to run against President Donald Trump but he wants to help people.

"It's actually about helping people," he said. "That's what matters. What he's done on health care to this country, premiums are up, copays are up, deductibles are up. People are worried about health care. They're worried about how expensive it is. They're worried about how complex it is, and that's what the democratic party should be focused on."

(c)2019 The Virginian-Pilot (Norfolk, Va.)