Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares Teases Likely 2025 Gubernatorial Run

This article was first published here in the National Review.

Chesapeake, Va. — President Joe Biden’s disastrous debate performance triggered a jolt of enthusiasm not just for presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump but also for down-ballot Republicans who are staring down competitive races against Biden-aligned Democrats this year and the next.

That includes Virginia’s Republican attorney general and prospective 2025 gubernatorial candidate Jason Miyares. Virginia prohibits its chief executives from serving consecutive terms, meaning the commonwealth’s popular governor Glenn Youngkin only has about a year and a half left in his term before he must pass the torch in January 2026.

Long seen as a strong gubernatorial candidate to potentially succeed Youngkin, the commonwealth’s top law-enforcement official is coy about what’s next when asked about whether he plans to run for governor in 2025. “I will be happy to comment about and discuss my political future the appropriate time. We have a really important election right now,” Miyares told National Review here in the VIP section of Trump’s rally on Friday afternoon. “It is obvious from watching last night’s debate that you’ve never had a clearer contrast between two candidates for the presidency.”

Though Miyares has yet to announce his expected gubernatorial candidacy, he was eager to chat about own record with National Review (he named his golden retriever “Buckley” after the magazine’s founder and says he’s been a “proud subscriber and follower” since his college days.). The attorney general counts among his recent successes his helping Virginia declare independence from California’s electric-vehicle mandate, defending Title IX protections in women’s sports, and pushing his “Operation Ceasefire” to fight violent crime. He also teased that Virginians should expect “more news soon” on his office’s big-tech investigation.

And he certainly relished the opportunity take a hit at representative Abigail Spanberger, the current front-runner in the Democratic gubernatorial primary. “The debate in 2025 is going to be if you liked the Joe Biden model of governance, or if you liked the Glenn Younkin model of governance. Abigail Spanberger voted 100 percent with Joe Biden this last year,” Miyares said. “If you like the Biden model, Abigail Spanberger is a perfect candidate.”

Speculation has been brewing for a while now about whether Miyares and Lieutenant Governor Winsome Sears will soon enter an awkward and competitive run for Youngkin’s seat in 2025. That early jockeying trickled into public view in July 2023, when I reported in the Dispatch that both candidates were laying the groundwork for potential runs behind the scenes. In that story, Sears’s political team name-checked the “Youngkin/Sears administration” and took a shot at Spanberger, who at that time was teasing a prospective run for governor.

Asked by NR on Friday whether a potential gubernatorial run from Sears might affect his own decision-making process, Miyares said: “I can’t speak for Winsome, she can speak for herself. I mean, I think all of us are focused on 2024. At least I am, and I think she could probably talk about her future.” Pressed further, he said: “I’m not going to speculate about what-ifs at this stage. I’m focused on 2024.”

In the middle of our interview, the loudspeakers began blaring Trump’s entry song, Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA” — a sign that the presumptive nominee was about to take the stage.

Friday’s lineup of Trump-aligned rally surrogates included Youngkin, former Virginia governors Bob McDonnell and George Allen, Republican U.S. Senate nominee Hung Cao, and representative Jen Kiggans. Missing from that list of Virginia Trump surrogates was Winsome Sears, who has yet to endorse Trump this cycle, having told Fox News host Neil Cavuto back in November 2022 that she “just couldn’t” support his candidacy. (Youngkin and Miyares endorsed him after Super Tuesday and will likely continue to campaign alongside him in Virginia, a blue-leaning battleground that Joe Biden carried by ten points in 2020.)

Sears’s team cited prior commitments as her reason for missing Trump’s Friday rally, telling NR in a statement that she was traveling back to Virginia that day “from her official duties” at the Aerospace States Association conference in Louisiana. Her team also said that she planned to deliver a keynote address at the Chesterfield County Lincoln-Reagan dinner in Richmond later that evening, and that she “looks forward” to helping elect Republicans get elected across the commonwealth in November. And yet a Chesterfield County Republican Committee invitation shows that Miyares — who attended the Trump rally — was also listed as a featured speaker at that Lincoln-Reagan dinner. (After this story’s initial publication, a person familiar with the matter tells NR that Sears was not invited to speak at Friday’s Trump rally.)

It’s too soon to tell whether both Miyares and Sears will make a run for governor in 2025 and how Trump’s potential endorsement may fit into a GOP gubernatorial race that has yet to take shape — let alone who will be in the White House during Virginia’s next off-year election. Would-be candidates know it will be difficult for any Republican gubernatorial nominee to replicate what Youngkin achieved in 2021, when he flipped Virginia red in a pandemic-era political environment against a flawed Democratic opponent and after keeping Trump at arm’s length on the campaign trail.

But the former president likes to think of himself as a kingmaker in contested GOP primaries, and he typically runs with those whom he perceives as being most loyal to his brand. Trump campaign senior adviser Chris LaCivita knows both would-be candidates personally, having worked as general consultant to Miyares’s attorney general campaign and as media consultant to Sears’s lieutenant governor campaign. But prior rhetoric from Trump-world suggests that the odds are already stacked against the lieutenant governor in the endorsement department. “Winsome Sears rode a wave of President Trump’s voters to election victory in 2021,” a Trump spokesperson told the Washington Post  after she called him a “liability” in the 2022 midterm elections. “Her comments are a slap to the face to all of the grassroots Republicans that worked so hard to get her elected. They won’t forget this and there will be a reckoning. There always is in politics.”

As Miyares weighs his own political future, he got a taste over the weekend of the political capital that can be gained by showing up when the Trump comes to town.

“I hear great things, all I know is Glenn tells me he’s doing a great job as attorney general,” the presumptive GOP nominee told the crowd during his rally on Friday, before inviting Miyares to make some quick onstage remarks alongside him. “As top law-enforcement official in the Commonwealth, I have to say, Mr. President, after seeing last night’s debate, I instructed my adult-abuse investigators to investigate the DNC for forcing Joe Biden to run for president,” Miyares said. “But when he talked about what’s at stake in this election, it’s three simple initials — U.S.A.!”

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