State Sen. Ralph Northam (D-Norfolk) announced to Democratic Party officials Sunday that he was running for lieutenant governor in an e-mail that played up the social issues Republicans pushed during the last General Assembly session.

“While Virginians desperately needed their representatives to find solutions that would improve education, fix our broken transportation system, and help put people back to work, Republicans used their majority to launch an all-out assault on women, working families, and the LGBT community,” he said in an e-mail to party steering committee members.

“As I spoke on the floor of the Virginia Senate to defend a most basic right of women — the right to control their own bodies and personal health — I was struck by how far Virginia’s government had strayed from its most fundamental mission of improving the lives of all Virginians. As a doctor, I have learned that I am supposed to heal, not harm; to lift people up, not keep them down. With these lessons firmly in mind I am proud to announce my candidacy for the Democratic nomination for Lieutenant Governor of Virginia.”

Northam, a pediatric neurologist, plans to make a formal announcement Thursday. His candidacy brings to nine the number of people seeking to succeed Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling (R). Bolling, who dropped out of the race for governor last week, is not seeking reelection.

Northam has one rival for the Democratic nomination: Aneesh Chopra, the nation’s first chief technology officer.

Seven Republicans are seeking that party’s nomination. They are: former delegate and state senator Jeannemarie Devolites Davis; Del. L. Scott Lingamfelter of Prince William County; state Sen. Stephen H. Martin of Chesterfield; Pete Snyder, a technology entrepreneur and recent Fox news contributor; Corey A. Stewart, chairman of the Prince William County Board of Supervisors; Susan Stimpson, chairwoman of the Stafford County Board of Supervisors; and E.W. Jackson, a Chesapeake minister who ran unsuccessfully for the GOP nomination in this year’s U.S. Senate race.