Rep. Rob Wittman, R-1st, says he is running for re-election to Congress next year and is not seeking statewide office in 2021.

Wittman, who considered a run for governor in 2017, did not rule out a run for governor in 2021 during an October debate with his Democratic congressional opponent, Vangie Williams.

In a statement Tuesday night, Wittman said: “I want to be 100% clear: I am running for re-election to continue to serve as the congressman representing the First District in 2020.”

He added: “I am certainly not retiring, nor am I seeking statewide office in 2021. My complete focus is on the people of the First District and the concerns and challenges we face every day.”

As yet, no prominent Virginia Republican has publicly declared an intention to run for governor in two years. That likely will change once the circumstances for that election become clearer. This November, candidates face off in legislative elections for control of the General Assembly. Another factor in potential candidates’ calculations is which party wins the White House in 2020.

Sen. Bill Stanley, R-Franklin, has said he would consider running for governor or attorney general in 2021. Other GOP lawmakers could jump in if they prevail this November.

Wittman dropped his plan to run for governor in December 2016, saying he decided to stay in Congress in part to ensure that 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. The GOP nomination ultimately went to Ed Gillespie, who lost to Democrat Ralph Northam by about 9 percentage points.

Wittman is the senior Republican in Virginia’s congressional delegation, having represented the sprawling 1st District since 2007. He served in the House of Delegates from 2006 to 2007 and previously was mayor of Montross.

Virginia Republicans have not won a statewide contest since 2009, when Bob McDonnell led a GOP sweep for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general.

acain@timesdispatch.com

(804) 649-6645

Twitter: @AndrewCainRTD

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