Former Virginia Governor Declares Candidacy For U.S. Senate

This story was written by Matt Dickey, Cavalier Daily
Former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore announced his candidacy for the United States Senate seat currently occupied by Republican Sen. John Warner via Internet video Monday.

"He feels that he has a lot to offer Virginians," Gilmore campaign consultant Boyd Marcus said, citing Gilmore's experience in foreign policy, national defense and terrorism.

University of Virginia politics professor Larry Sabato said Gilmore's decision is a natural progression if he still desires an extended political career after becoming the first Republican to pull out of the presidential race in July.

"It makes sense for him because the other pathways to office are blocked," Sabato said, noting the numerous Republican candidates for governor in the next election as well as the length of time before Webb's current term ends. "He was last on a ballot in '97 ... eventually these things have an expiration date," Sabato said.

Marcus said the Internet video announcement of Gilmore's candidacy was an attempt to reach out to younger voters who may not yet be familiar with the candidate.

"It was a way to get out a message to reintroduce him to people who don't know him -- he's been out of office for a few years now," Marcus said. "It was a way to talk to people more directly without as much filtering."

Mark Warner, also a former governor of Virginia, is the Democratic candidate for the same United States Senate seat.

"We welcome Jim Gilmore to the campaign and we look forward to a spirited discussion," Mark Warner's communications director Kevin Hall stated in a press release.

Gilmore's only potential competition within his party, United States Rep. Thomas Davis, chose not to run after the Commonwealth's Republican Party opted to select its nominee through a convention next summer. Sabato said Davis, a moderate, would not have a strong chance of nomination at the convention, which is dominated by conservatives, and thus made the decision to not compete.

Sabato predicted the campaign strategy to be utilized by both candidates: "Warner will tout his popular gubernatorial record, while Gilmore will make a run at Warner in two ways: Hillary Clinton and taxes."

According to Sabato, if Clinton becomes the Democratic candidate and if the majority of Virginians vote in favor of the Republican presidential candidate, Warner might then have to deal with a negative association with Clinton. Sabato noted, however, that President George H. W. Bush, a Republican, won Virginia with a 60-40 split in 1988, while Senator Chuck Robb, a Democrat, won with an overwhelming 73 percent.

Currently, however, Gilmore has his work cut out for him, Sabato said.

"Every national ratings service ... has Warner as a substantial to heavy favorite," Sabato said. "It doesn't mean that he can't be upset, but upsets like this are rare."
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