Terry McAuliffe is telling friends he'll announce plans to again run for governor of Virginia in the coming weeks.
Why it matters: This could spark a divisive primary with younger, more diverse candidates and serve as a bellwether for 2024 races — including the next presidential election.
Details: Virginia holds its gubernatorial election a year after the presidential race, and its outcome can preview where the Democratic Party is heading and how it's viewed by Americans nationally.
- This 2021 contest could expose deep divisions since it is expected to draw candidates from across the racial, gender and ideological spectrum.
- It also may mirror the brewing battle between centrists and progressives in what had been a swing state but in recent cycles has become bluer.
The big picture: Other candidates already include two female members of the state legislature — Delegate Jennifer Carroll Foy and Sen. Jennifer McClellan — and Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, who is African American. McAuliffe, as governor from 2014 to 2018, cast himself as a pro-business, job-creating Clinton Democrat.
- He also made inroads with progressives by pushing for women's access to reproductive health, gun control and voting rights for former felons.
- His PAC is flush with cash, having raised some $1.7 million as of this summer, and he counts nearly half of the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus as supporters.
Between the lines: McAuliffe had been discussed as a possible ambassador or commerce secretary in the Biden administration, but he's made it clear the job he loves the most is being Virginia's governor.
- Virginia law limits governors to a four-year term, but it also lets them run again after being out of office for four years.
- McAuliffe passed on running for president in 2020, but if he won the governor's race, he could be primed to run for president in 2024.
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