A House Republican who represents Virginia's Chesapeake region is not ruling out a run for governor.
"Never say never," 1st District Rep. Rob Wittman told AMI Newswire Wednesday when asked whether he was considering a run to succeed Gov. Terry McAuliffe in the single-term-limit state.
WIttman tamped down speculation, saying he is "focused on the 2015 elections, and the 2016 elections." But state Sen. Mark Obenshain's announcement Monday that he would not seek the GOP gubernatorial nomination in 2017 opened room for other prominent Virginia Republicans.
Much of the speculation has focused on Ed Gillespie, who narrowly lost to Democrat Mark Warner in the 2014 U.S. Senate race. Gillespie has not made any public comment on a possible gubernatorial bid and did not respond to requests for comment from AMI Newswire.
Wittman, who serves on the House Committees on Armed Services and Natural Resources, has compiled a solid right-conservative voting record, with an A rating and multiple endorsements from the National Rifle Association. His district includes the Northern Neck and Middle Peninsula along with a portion of the historic Virginia Peninsula. Prior to being elected to the House in 2007, Wittman was mayor of the town of Montross, a Westmoreland County supervisor, and a state delegate.
"A number of people have talked to me and mentioned my name as a possible candidate, and I am humbled by it," said Wittman. "But my focus is on the tasks immediately before us."
A third possible candidate mentioned for the nomination is investor and Fox News contributor Pete Snyder. Snyder ran unsuccessfully for the GOP's lieutenant governor nomination in 2013. He currently serves as finance chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia.
Snyder told AMI Newswire that he is not looking at the 2017 race but instead is "focused on helping to win the 2015 General Assembly elections and building the statewide Republican effort for 2016's presidential race."