Former RNC chair Ed Gillespie announces Senate run against Virginia’s Warner

Mary Katharine Ham Posted at 10:11 pm on January 16, 2014

You might say, the map has expanded in 2014.

Ed Gillespie for Senate:

WASHINGTON — Former Republican Party chairman Ed Gillespie jumped into the U.S. Senate race in Virginia on Thursday, taking aim at Democratic incumbent Mark Warner in one of the nation’s most-watched swing states.

“I’m running for Senate because the American Dream is being undermined by policies that move us away from constitutional principles of limited government and personal liberty,” Gillespie said in a campaign video.

Gillespie, a longtime communications strategist and political operative, has been talking to Virginia GOP activists for weeks as he assessed a challenge to Warner, a popular ex-governor who has already socked away $7.1 million for the 2014 campaign. Gillespie has told people in Virginia that he believes the Senate race is “winnable.”

But Gillespie faces an uphill battle as becomes a first-time candidate.

Here’s his intro video, stressing his humble roots and rise from Senate car-parker to West Wing adviser:

A little stilted at moments, but strikes a nice, measured tone, hitting Warner for voting to increase the national debt by trillions and backing ObamaCare. I particularly like the line about the “new normal” being the “old mediocre,” and that the future can look better. Warner is an extremely popular politician, but he’s voted for extremely unpopular things. The fact that Gillespie, who’s no political novice despite being a first-time candidate, is throwing in illustrates how generous Republicans think the wave might be in 2014.

Warner responds by saying “Bush.”

Well before the low-key debut of Gillespie’s website, the Senate Democrats’ campaign committee began attacking Gillespie’s work as a lobbyist for companies such as Enron and his tenure in the Bush administration. The Democrats are also highlighting Gillespie’s support of a comprehensive immigration overhaul with a path to citizenship, arguing his policy views could spark problems with Tea Party conservatives in Virginia.

“When Virginians get to know Ed Gillespie, they won’t like what they see,” said Matt Canter, a spokesman for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. “The last thing Virginians need in Washington is a career lobbyist with a partisan history of slash-and-burn politics that divides Virginians.

Said the party that just elected Terry McAuliffe governor.