The Virginia Senate race may have just gotten interesting

posted at 8:31 am on January 11, 2014 by Jazz Shaw

The temperature in the Virginia Senate race – which hasn’t been making a lot of news in punditry circles – may have just gone up a few notches. It’s looking like former RNC chair Ed Gillespie is getting ready to throw his hat into the ring, with only a few weeks left until the filing deadline.

Ed Gillespie, a former Republican National Committee chairman, has told senior members of his party that he will challenge Senator Mark R. Warner of Virginia and announce his candidacy as early as next week, giving Republicans a top-tier candidate in what has become one of the nation’s most competitive swing states.

The bid by Mr. Gillespie, a longtime party operative turned lobbyist with ties to both Republican grass-roots and establishment wings, also underlines the intent of more mainstream Virginia Republicans to retake control of the party after a Tea Party-backed candidate lost the governorship.

Now, I know what some of you may be thinking here. Didn’t we just lose a clean sweep in Virginia?

Well, yes. the Democrats had a pretty good run there. And Mark Warner, the former Democrat Governor, is regarded as a very popular figure there. People might have reason to scoff at first glance, and their supporters at the Times are quick to begin piling on factors which they think will disqualify him for victory in the Old Dominion. (Hey… the guy was a lobbyist for Enron after all. Let’s not get too carried away here, eh?) But is it really such a far fetched idea? At Slate, Dave Weigel lays out some of the reasons why Gillespie might not be just throwing good money after bad.

Sure, in July, Warner had a 51 percent approval rating. But what’s happened since then? Free hint: It starts with an “O” and ends with an “bamacare.” Even the Republicans angry at Ken Cuccinelli for blowing the 2013 gubernatorial election believe that the first problems with the health care law closed the race from 10 to 3 points in a couple of weeks. They told me as much at Cuccinelli’s election night party; they have since been emboldened by the razor-thin result in one of Virginia’s open state Senate seats. A Republican’s within 10 votes of taking the seat held by incoming Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam. Already, even if he loses, that represents a 7-point swing toward the GOP in the district, compared with 2012′s Obama-Romney result.

Weigel’s theory is that Warner is definitely a solid, strong competitor with a substantial following and the built-in advantages of incumbency. But in 2014, Obamacare is offering a boost which will weaken the positions of even solidly safe Democrats to the same degree that Iraq knocked the wind out of the sails of shoe-in Republicans in 2006. If the pendulum has already begun to swing against O’care supporters like Warner in January, it may be moving fast enough to knock him off his pedestal in November, assuming the opponent can muster the resources to take the battle to him. And Gillespie certainly has that going for him. He’s a proven fundraiser, with substantial personal wealth which could be brought to bear as well.

It’s still too soon to pin Virginia up on the big map as a definite takeaway possibility for this year, but these latest developments make it one worth watching.


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He will play well here.

MT on January 11, 2014 at 8:36 AM

I’ve seen Gillespie on national TV before as a pundit. Seeing him as a candidate would be interesting since he has, what is for some strange reason a rare ability among Republican candidates: the ability to speak about issues without simply rehashing talking points.

From what I’ve seen of him, he’s broadly conservative with the one big exception of amnesty (is there some reason the GOP is incapable of getting genuine opponents of amnesty to run?)

Stoic Patriot on January 11, 2014 at 8:38 AM

Hey… the guy was a lobbyist for Enron after all. Let’s not get too carried away here, eh?

So he’s going to be endorsed by Paul Krugman?

rbj on January 11, 2014 at 8:38 AM

Even the Republicans angry at Ken Cuccinelli for blowing the 2013 gubernatorial election believe that the first problems with the health care law closed the race from 10 to 3 points in a couple of weeks.

How about Sore Loser Bolling pulling a Lugar and refusing to endorse Ken? Or the GOP establishment holding its purse strings to teach those Tea Party upstarts a lesson? If the RINOs had shown the party unity they always demand of conservatives who lose the primary, it might have been different.

Wethal on January 11, 2014 at 8:43 AM

Nothing says “success” like putting up the one guy who departed the 2008 Presidential race before the Ames Straw Poll.

Steve Eggleston on January 11, 2014 at 8:55 AM

How about Sore Loser Bolling pulling a Lugar and refusing to endorse Ken? Or the GOP establishment holding its purse strings to teach those Tea Party upstarts a lesson? If the RINOs had shown the party unity they always demand of conservatives who lose the primary, it might have been different.

Wethal on January 11, 2014 at 8:43 AM

THAT ….

conservative tarheel on January 11, 2014 at 9:08 AM

Nothing says “success” like putting up the one guy who departed the 2008 Presidential race before the Ames Straw Poll.

Steve Eggleston on January 11, 2014 at 8:55 AM

I think that was MN gov Tim Pawlenty, not Scott Gillespie.

JimLennon on January 11, 2014 at 9:10 AM

Lots of these license plates (in addition to mine) starting to pop up in central VA:
https://www.dmv.virginia.gov/exec/#vehicle/splates/info.asp?idnm=DTOM

MT on January 11, 2014 at 9:15 AM

“Quick!..get the NSA reports. Dig up some slime..if there isn’t any, make some up!”
Barry O.

Mimzey on January 11, 2014 at 9:16 AM

So he’s going to be endorsed by Paul Krugman?

rbj on January 11, 2014 at 8:38 AM

Good one.

DaveDief on January 11, 2014 at 9:38 AM

Ed Gillespie, not Scott

He is a great candidate and can talk to Reagan democrats. And this broadens the map against the demand in any case.

Wonderful news

matthew8787 on January 11, 2014 at 9:42 AM

Nothing says “success” like putting up the one guy who departed the 2008 Presidential race before the Ames Straw Poll.

Steve Eggleston on January 11, 2014 at 8:55 AM

…?…

KOOLAID2 on January 11, 2014 at 9:43 AM

It is now Lean D, which is still better than Safe D. There’s never anything wrong with expanding the map. Thom Tillis and Terri Lynn Land will appreciate every dime the DSCC now has to spend to defend Warner.

Gingotts on January 11, 2014 at 9:50 AM

How about Sore Loser Bolling pulling a Lugar and refusing to endorse Ken? Or the GOP establishment holding its purse strings to teach those Tea Party upstarts a lesson? If the RINOs had shown the party unity they always demand of conservatives who lose the primary, it might have been different.

Wethal on January 11, 2014 at 8:43 AM

Yeah, they like to rewrite history…

Fallon on January 11, 2014 at 10:00 AM

(is there some reason the GOP is incapable of getting genuine opponents of amnesty to run?)

Stoic Patriot on January 11, 2014 at 8:38 AM

Yeah, maybe they get paid heavily not to? Ineptness and feigned ignorance is the best of deceits.

Don L on January 11, 2014 at 10:03 AM

([I]s there some reason the GOP is incapable of getting genuine opponents of amnesty to run?)

Stoic Patriot on January 11, 2014 at 8:38 AM

Sadly, the same reason Bush left the border open after September 11th…

Fallon on January 11, 2014 at 10:07 AM

If the RINOs had shown the party unity they always demand of conservatives who lose the primary, it might have been different.

Wethal on January 11, 2014 at 8:43 AM

.
Absolute truth.

ExpressoBold on January 11, 2014 at 10:15 AM

Gillespie? No thanks.

MTF on January 11, 2014 at 10:16 AM

IIRC, it was under his watch I started redirecting my political donations and started sending the RNC those empty postage due envelopes…

OmahaConservative on January 11, 2014 at 10:20 AM

How about Sore Loser Bolling pulling a Lugar and refusing to endorse Ken? Or the GOP establishment holding its purse strings to teach those Tea Party upstarts a lesson? If the RINOs had shown the party unity they always demand of conservatives who lose the primary, it might have been different.
Wethal on January 11, 2014 at 8:43 AM

THIS.

AH_C on January 11, 2014 at 10:21 AM

Whatever happened to that state congress race a few days ago where the republican was down by 10 votes and went into recount?

AH_C on January 11, 2014 at 10:23 AM

IIRC, it was under his watch I started redirecting my political donations and started sending the RNC those empty postage due envelopes…
OmahaConservative on January 11, 2014 at 10:20 AM

Remember when Cap’n Ed started “not one then dime” on Captain’s Quarters before coming to HA? Now he’s in full support of the GOPe.

Good times then not so much now since he crossed over to the dark side by touting T’Paw early and often in spite of his statist tendencies like mileage tax, gps car tracking, agw etc.

AH_C on January 11, 2014 at 10:31 AM

Well, if one wants a Harry Reid clone, then Warner’s the man. The statement “When two men in business always agree, one of them is unnecessary.” applies to Mark Warner to a T. He votes in lockstep with the Harry Reid liberal left although he ran for office as a moderate. The only time he strays is when it’s a safe vote and no harm will come to the Dems.

His fellow senator, Tim Kaine, is proving to be the same.

Like the map of the USA after a presidential election, 90% of the geographic area of the country is red. So it is with Virginia. All the blue areas are in Northern VA, Richmond, Norfolk, and the college towns. And, you can count on these areas to produce enough votes in favor of the Dems when there is a close election. Virginia has the proverbial “tail wagging the dog” syndrome.

iamsaved on January 11, 2014 at 10:47 AM

Whatever happened to that state congress race a few days ago where the republican was down by 10 votes and went into recount?

AH_C on January 11, 2014 at 10:23 AM

They’re still counting but you can bet the Dem will win. They always do in a close election especially after a recount. They always seem to find enough magical votes to put their candidate over the top. The republicans here are like Charlie Brown and Lucy with the football. They never figure out they’re being snookered again.

iamsaved on January 11, 2014 at 10:50 AM

How about Sore Loser Bolling pulling a Lugar and refusing to endorse Ken? Or the GOP establishment holding its purse strings to teach those Tea Party upstarts a lesson? If the RINOs had shown the party unity they always demand of conservatives who lose the primary, it might have been different.

Wethal on January 11, 2014 at 8:43 AM

Lugar has taken it to the next level. He is giving money to the Democrat in the Georgia Senate race. It’s one thing to say that TEA party candidates lose seats because they’re not good candidates, but Lugar has crossed the line, proving that he really is the true definition of a RINO.

Kafir on January 11, 2014 at 10:56 AM

Please…. it’s “Shoo-in”. “Shoe-in” sounds more like what I’d like to do to Karl Rove’s butt with my size 12 combat boot.

drunyan8315 on January 11, 2014 at 11:07 AM

Fer cryin’ out loud, East Vagina voted for Terry McCrapweasel for Governor. That state is gone. And even if there did happen to be a state-wide collective stroke on election day, and Gillespie is elected, big whoop, he’s another Graham/ McCain “R”.

M240H on January 11, 2014 at 11:18 AM

Quelle horreurs.

I used a different V-word for Virginia and got moderated. Get the smelling salts quick!

M240H on January 11, 2014 at 11:22 AM

(is there some reason the GOP is incapable of getting genuine opponents of amnesty to run?)

Stoic Patriot on January 11, 2014 at 8:38 AM

They don’t have any.

Jaibones on January 11, 2014 at 11:34 AM

M240H on January 11, 2014 at 11:22 AM

Because 4 minutes is an eon.

Difficultas_Est_Imperium on January 11, 2014 at 11:34 AM

I don’t have any strong opinions about Gillespie. Hope he wins.

Jaibones on January 11, 2014 at 11:35 AM

Nothing says “success” like putting up the one guy who departed the 2008 Presidential race before the Ames Straw Poll.

Steve Eggleston on January 11, 2014 at 8:55 AM

…?…

KOOLAID2 on January 11, 2014 at 9:43 AM

Sometimes I start drinking early to.

celtic warrior on January 11, 2014 at 11:40 AM

Why hasn’t the name “Bob McDonnell” popped up yet?

ExpressoBold on January 11, 2014 at 12:23 PM

This will be a difficult race. Warner’s approval rating may only be 51%, but he’s still very well-liked there. With that said Gillespie is the type of Republican that can win in VA. It’s actually too bad that Gillespie didn’t decide to run against McAuliffe instead of against Warner, as I think Gillespie would have won with relative ease.

He’s articulate, intelligent, likable, and he espouses conservative principles without coming across as an extremist.

GOPRanknFile on January 11, 2014 at 12:40 PM

Why hasn’t the name “Bob McDonnell” popped up yet?

ExpressoBold on January 11, 2014 at 12:23 PM

Probably won’t be hearing his name for a while because of his gift scandal.

GOPRanknFile on January 11, 2014 at 12:41 PM

Because 4 minutes is an eon.

Difficultas_Est_Imperium on January 11, 2014 at 11:34 AM

Funny, that’s what your missus says about you.

M240H on January 11, 2014 at 12:55 PM

Lots of these license plates (in addition to mine) starting to pop up in central VA:
https://www.dmv.virginia.gov/exec/#vehicle/splates/info.asp?idnm=DTOM

MT on January 11, 2014 at 9:15 AM

I…want…one!!!

I don’t know for sure, but I have some serious doubts that Washington State’s licensing department allows folks to have those.

…and a quick online check proved me right. Darn!

theotherone on January 11, 2014 at 1:16 PM

I would no sooner vote for an amnesty supporting K-street lobbyist than I would the Democrat.

FloatingRock on January 11, 2014 at 2:28 PM

Remember if you want a chance at winning a race you must actually show up and campaign.

Even after getting GOP elites to let him skip a primary, after not bothering to hold campaign events or have an outreach, KC lost by a few percentage points. Yeah the GOP elites kept their money in their pockets, and the D’s flooded the state with the ‘War on Wimminses’ crap… what was lacking was a game, any sort of a game be it ground or air, on the part of KC. And I’m not talking the high flying multi-million dollar ad buys, but going out to malls, townhalls and doing basic campaigning of pressing the flesh and getting the word out sort. Shoe leather campaigning if nothing else. KC didn’t even do THAT.

If you want to WIN you must CAMPAIGN, even when the dipstick Elites stab you in the back and withhold money… those are no reason to NOT run a campaign and actually RUN for the office you are seeking. Grab public time any way you can, but do not sit on your fat behind listening to ‘managers’ who can’t figure out how to do a blue backdrop commercial with a desk and an American Flag. We aren’t talking high-tech here.

ajacksonian on January 11, 2014 at 3:00 PM

I…want…one!!!

I don’t know for sure, but I have some serious doubts that Washington State’s licensing department allows folks to have those.

theotherone on January 11, 2014 at 1:16 PM

Virginia isn’t shy about the number of vanity plates they offer. Including such fine VA schools as Univ. of Michigan, Notre Dame, and Maryland.

One thing Jazz doesn’t factor in that is going to be huge is the fact that Warner just voted to loot the retirements of military members. He was quick to sign up for legislation that would restore that funding with other cuts but the fact of the matter is that the bastard just messed with military retirements in a state filled with military and military retirees.

Happy Nomad on January 11, 2014 at 3:01 PM

Cuccinelli hardly “blew” the election. It was stolen by the Department mocrat posing as a Libertarian. Typical Jazz.

Dunedainn on January 11, 2014 at 4:00 PM

Democrat posing as a Libertarian, even. Reason #15 not to use the sucky mobile app.

Dunedainn on January 11, 2014 at 4:03 PM

Meh, if we’re going to lose we might as well lose with Ed. I don’t see how Ed can unseat Mark Warner.

Punchenko on January 11, 2014 at 5:41 PM

Both of our Democrap senators have been nothing but a rubber stamp for Obama. They never had Virginia’s interest as a priority. That’s a lot to campaign with. The problem is the ‘good ol’ boy’ repub network in Virginia has kept any quality conservatives out.

TfromV on January 12, 2014 at 10:18 PM