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Davis Out Of Senate Race, Offers Lukewarm Endorsement To Gilmore

Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.) officially declared he would not be running for the Senate, and offered a lukewarm endorsement of former Virginia governor Jim Gilmore, the likely Republican nominee, at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast Thursday morning.

Davis said that the bleak political environment for Republicans in Virginia and the prospect of a bitter GOP nomination process through a convention were key factors in his decision. He said that the presumptive Democratic nominee, Mark Warner was a “formidable” candidate who shares his same Northern Virginia base.

And he said that his path to the nomination would be more challenging through the convention route.

“If you are tied up in the convention, you can’t do the kind of grassroots you ordinarily would do running a campaign in the traditional sense against the Democrat,” said Davis. “Once you tear off the scab of the Republican moderates against conservatives, it’s hard to put it back together again.”

He said he hasn’t decided whether he will run for re-election to his House seat, but hinted he is still preparing the infrastructure for future Congressional campaigns

“I’m still raising money. I’m going to a lot of events,” Davis said. “The rumors of my demise are greatly exaggerated.”

Davis said he will endorse the party’s nominee for the Virginia Senate seat but will remain “disengaged” from the process in the near future. And he acknowledged that he was concerned about Gilmore’s prospects in the general election, if he’s the nominee.

“I’m the only one concerned about that. A lot of people are concerned,” Davis said.

Davis also offered a critical note towards the state of the Republican party nationally, arguing it has to reach beyond its traditional supporters. He cited the Democratic efforts to attract rural, gun-owning voters in last year’s Congressional elections, and said that Republicans similarly need to go outside their natural base to remain competitive.

“Republicans still get more excited of defeating other Republicans than Democrats,” Davis said. “We need to grow the party, not shrink the party.”