As The Bull Elephant reported back in December, First District Congressman Rob Wittman has announced plans to run for Governor in 2017. Since then, his only announced rival, Ed Gillespie, has made a huge fundraising splash via his Let’s Grow, Virginia! PAC. Wittman’s status as a federal office holder has limited his ability to compete in this arena, but he has now signaled that he intends to hold his own against Gillespie.
A new PAC supportive of Wittman’s run has launched. The PAC is named the Virginia First Fund.
When contacted about this development, staff for Congressman Wittman offered the following statement:
Launching the Virginia First Fund is a necessary step forward for Congressman Wittman in anticipation of his Gubernatorial bid in 2017. The Congressman’s top priority has always been public service, and he is dedicated to putting people and the Commonwealth of Virginia First. Right now, Congressman Wittman is devoting his full energy to a successful 2016 reelection campaign in the First District, and he’s continuing to advance policies that limit government overreach and vitalize Virginia’s diverse economy.
The drama surrounding this year’s presidential contest may make all of this seem premature, but despite the public’s focus being on Trump/Cruz and the contest between the two socialists, raising the type of money it will take to effectively compete in 2017 has to start now, just a year out from the nomination. Wittman’s move here signals an understanding of this reality, and a seriousness about being positioned to win.
In addition to Gillespie and Wittman, Prince William County Board of Supervisors Chairman Corey Stewart (also Donald Trump’s statewide chairman) and former Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (director of Ted Cruz’s nationwide convention delegate operation) have both been rumored to be considering a run for Governor. Former Lieutenant Governor candidate Pete Snyder’s name still seems to be in the mix as well.
While most attention will rightly remain on the Presidential and Congressional races (Wittman just drew a Democrat challenger in his heavily-Republican district) for the time being, maneuvering will continue for the 2017 races. The candidates for Attorney General (Del. Rob Bell, John Adams, and Chuck Smith) are already becoming fixtures at local mass meetings and Congressional district conventions, as have a couple of the Lieutenant Governor candidates (Sen. Bryce Reeves and Sen. Jill Vogel).
Some candidates seem to be placing their bets on the 2017 nomination taking place via a convention, as was agreed last year in a “compromise” on adopting a presidential primary over a convention. Others, whose chances would not be as good at a convention, seem to be hoping the mood of the RPV State Central Committee shifts this election season away from the compromise approach and toward a state-run open primary.
We’ll keep our readers apprised as the situation unfolds throughout this year and next.