Former US Congressman Tom Perriello Makes Surprise Bid for Governor of Virginia

Jan 5, 2017

President Barack Obama stands with Rep. Tom Perriello, D-Va., during a rally at the Charlottesville Pavilion in Charlottesville, Va., Friday, Oct. 29, 2010. Perriello was seeking re-election, but lost narrowly to Republican Robert Hurt.

Former U.S. Representative Tom Perriello is making a surprise bid for governor.

The former one-term congressman from Charlottesville announced this morning that he's seeking the Democratic nomination.

In a statement on Twitter, Perriello said he's running to help keep Virginia a "firewall vs Trump." Virginia was the only southern state Republican Donald Trump did not win in last year's presidential election.

Perriello, a favorite of progressives, will face off against Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam, a moderate, for the Democratic primary in June.

Perriello's decision to run shocked much of Virginia's political establishment, as Northam has been considered the presumptive Democratic nominee for more than a year.

Related: Virginia Elects a New Governor Next Year. Will Voters Seek Another Trump?

At least three Republicans are seeking their party's nomination, including former Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie and onetime Trump campaign surrogate Corey Stewart. Gillespie ran unsuccessfully for Senator Mark Warner's seat in 2014.

Virginia governors are limited to one term by state law.

The New York Times broke the story last night, reporting that Perriello's surprise candidacy could complicate things for Virginia Democrats already lined up to support Northam. 

Perriello is a 42-year-old Yale Law School graduate who, as the Times reports, "quickly became a favorite of the White House for his willingness to vote for Mr. Obama’s agenda despite representing a right-of-center district."