Filler-Corn, first woman speaker in Va. history, endorses McAuliffe for governor

Former Gov. Terry McAuliffe speaks at the Democratic Party of Virginia's 2019 Blue Commonwealth Gala. (Ned Oliver/Virginia Mercury)

The first woman to become speaker of Virginia’s House of Delegates won’t be backing a woman in the 2021 Democratic primary for governor.

Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn, D-Fairfax, is endorsing former Gov. Terry McAuliffe, according to a news release from the McAuliffe campaign.

“I have known Terry McAuliffe for decades and have seen up close his determination to push our commonwealth forward,” Filler-Corn said in a prepared statement that also touted McAuliffe’s appearances for Democratic candidates last year as Democrats flipped control of the House.

Those wins in 2019 allowed Filler-Corn to be chosen as the first female speaker early this year, breaking a 400-year streak of men in the role.

House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn, D-Fairfax ,confers with Clerk Suzette Denslow as the Democratic majority took control of the chamber’s legislative proceedings in January. (Ned Oliver/ Virginia Mercury)

Two other Democratic candidates competing with McAuliffe — state Sen. Jennifer McClellan, D-Richmond, and former Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy, D-Prince William — are looking for their own history-making moment next year.

No woman of any race has ever been elected governor in Virginia, and no Black woman has been elected governor of any state.

Filler-Corn’s endorsement is the latest development that might help McAuliffe push back on the narrative that his attempted return for a second term is denying a breakthrough opportunity to the two women who were already in the race. Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax is also seeking the Democratic gubernatorial nomination.

McAuliffe also received a Twitter endorsement last week from his friend and ally Hillary Clinton, who urged her followers to donate to his campaign and said “he’s served the state well in the past, and will again.”