Rob Wittman – a House Republican who represents the Hampton Roads area of Virginia in Congress – announced he would not be a candidate for the Republican nomination in the Virginia gubernatorial race next year. He told the Richmond Times-Dispatch his reasons for staying in the House:
In an interview, Wittman said he decided to stay in Congress in part to ensure Virginia has representation on the House Armed Services Committee and its naval subcommittee, which oversees military programs of vital importance to the Hampton Roads region.
“I think the best place for me to serve right now is staying there in Congress,” Wittman said. “Especially now with an administration coming in that’s committed to rebuilding our military.”
Wittman had previously been considered a contender for Tim Kaine’s Senate seat in the event Kaine ascended to the vice presidency. With his exit from the race, the Republican field for 2017 as it stands now is former Republican National Committee chairman Ed Gillespie, Donald Trump’s former Virginia campaign chairman Corey Stewart, and state Sen. Frank Wagner (R-Virginia Beach). Wittman declined to endorse any of them, saying “I respect and admire all three .”
In a statement, Democratic Party of Virginia Communications Director Emily Bolton said, “The anti-establishment electorate that voted for Donald Trump in the primary sent Wittman running for the hills. In fact, this race is so toxic that he refuses to endorse any of the candidates. By the time the primary rolls around, the Republican nominee will emerge a damaged candidate with empty pockets.”