Dorothy McAuliffe, wife of Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, said Wednesday she will not seek the Democratic nomination to challenge Rep. Barbara Comstock (R) next year.
The first lady of Virginia was considering a run and spent the last few weeks calling Democratic members of Congress as well as state delegates and senators to gather their input.
“I’ve decided that I can have more impact in the role that I have now and not wanting to give that up, having to separate myself from that earlier than I’d like,” she said in a phone interview.
“I have a lot of people counting on me — children in need, schools that we work with, our school nutrition directors, the works we’ve done across the board with military families — and I am not ready to disengage from that role,” she added.
The McAuliffes are scheduled to vacate the governor’s mansion when his term expires on Jan. 13, 2018; he is prohibited by the state constitution from seeking a second consecutive term. The couple, who have five children, own a home in McLean.
Her decision clears the way for state Sen. Jennifer Wexton (D-Loudoun), a former prosecutor who was recruited by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee to try to unseat Comstock. Democrats are targeting the congressional district, the only one in the D.C. metropolitan area held by a Republican. It spans the Washington suburbs of Loudoun, Fairfax and Prince William counties and the conservative strongholds of Clarke and Frederick counties.
In addition to Wexton, Lindsey Davis Stover, a former Obama administration official, and Dan Helmer, an Army veteran and Rhodes scholar, have filed the paperwork to seek the party nod. Kimberly Adams, past president of the Fairfax teachers union, has said she will also run.
Comstock won reelection by 6 points in her northern Virginia district, outperforming Donald Trump by 16 points.
Dorothy McAuliffe, who with her husband is a close friend to Bill and Hillary Clinton, said she has not ruled out the possibilty of running for public office in the future. Had she entered the race, experts said the first lady would have high name recognition and a built-in fundraising network.
She has already hit the stump for candidates in other races in advance of the June 13 primary. She said will probably endorse a candidate in the 10th District race but hadn’t given it much thought yet.
McAuliffe, 53, earned a BA in political science from Catholic University and a law degree at Georgetown University before practicing banking and securities law for several years, according to the first lady’s official biography.
Some Democrats worried her entry into the race would touch off a contentious intraparty fight, but she said that did not influence her decision.
Others wondered if it would create conflicts of interest if she won and Terry McAuliffe decided to run for president in 2020. Again, not a factor, she said.
“That’s not what we’re talking about these days,” she said.