Ralph-NorthamRICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ Virginia Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam now has the official backing of the Democratic Party’s top state officials for his 2017 gubernatorial bid.

Northam’s campaign said Saturday that Gov. Terry McAuliffe, U.S. Sens. Tim Kaine and Mark Warner and Attorney General Mark Herring have all endorsed the lieutenant governor.

Herring announced last year he would run for re-election and not pursue the
Executive Mansion.

Northam, a doctor, is well positioned to have a smooth ride to be the
Democratic nominee for governor in 2017. The GOP nomination contest could be
more intense, with three candidates already vying for the spot.

Donald Trump’s Virginia campaign chairman Corey Stewart has already been publicly critical of former Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie. Republican U.S. Rep. Rod Wittman has said he’s also running.