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Gilmore Makes It Official

Former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore (R) officially announced his candidacy for the state's open U.S. Senate seat on Monday. Gilmore's bid to succeed retiring Sen. John Warner (R) had been expected for months, especially after a presidential bid fizzled out in July.

"Virginia’s legacy of solid principles and values is ingrained in me: family, patriotism, justice, free enterprise, defense of our nation. These are Virginia values: the ideals of my youth, and the hope of our future," Gilmore said in a statement published on his website, Virginia Patriot. "That’s who I am, and that’s why I’m running to represent Virginians, all of them, in the United States Senate."

If Gilmore wins the GOP nomination at a party convention in 2008, he will face Mark Warner, his successor as Virginia governor and the all-but-certain Democratic nominee. In an Oct. 11 poll conducted by the Washington Post, Warner held a 30-point lead over Gilmore. Gilmore's main rival for the nomination, the more moderate U.S. Rep. Thomas M. Davis III, in October chose not to run, after state GOP officials decided not to hold a primary to decide the nomination, but rather a party convention, which conservative activists tend to dominate.

The Republican Party in Virginia has been in a downward slide over the past several years; the last two governors, Warner and Tim Kaine, are both Democrats. Sen. Jim Webb upset erstwhile presidential candidate George Allen in last year's senatorial election, and the Virginia GOP lost control of the state Senate earlier this month. In 2004, President George W. Bush won Virginia 54 percent to 46 percent.

- Avi Zenilman