Former U.S. Rep. Tom Perriello announced that he will not seek the Democratic nomination for Virginia governor, endorsing former Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe. His decision clears the last known hurdle for McAuliffe to emerge as the nominee. McAuliffe has spent the last week announcing support from members of the Democratic establishment in Virginia, sending a signal to Perriello that he would have a tough time winning over party leaders.
"...I have considered a run for Governor, and am genuinely touched by the outpouring of support. I do not feel called to serve in elected office at this time, but I do not need to have my name on the ballot to be part of the fight," wrote Perriello in a statement, posted on the liberal blog Blue Virginia. "Through my work as President of Center for American Progress Action and in my personal capacity, I will continue to fight back against those who attack women's rights, threaten scientists, and pursue an ideological austerity agenda that undermines desperately needed investments in infrastructure, education, and technology that help grow the middle class. "
In the statement, Perriello attacked expected Republican nominee Ken Cuccinelli, criticizing him as outside the mainstream. When lieutenant governor Bill Bolling dropped out of the gubernatorial race, he notably didn't endorse his primary rival, instead leaving open the question of whether he would pursue an independent candidacy.
Perriello, however, called for all Democrats to rally around McAuliffe.
"No one has worked harder to prevent this extreme agenda from reaching the Governor's mansion than Terry McAuliffe," wrote Perriello. "I hope that progressives and moderates can unite as Virginians choose between the worst of our past and the best of our future. Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli says what he believes, but those divisive beliefs are devastating to our Commonwealth. I will be supporting Terry and all of those who are willing to put their names on the ballot to keep Virginia moving forward."
With Virginia Sen. Mark Warner pledging to stay in the Senate, McAuliffe has the field to himself at this point among known contenders for the Democratic nomination. Cuccinelli faces a nominal challenge for the GOP nod by former White House party crasher Tareq Salahi.