Gillespie Eyes Challenge to Virginia Sen. Mark Warner

Image: Gillespie Eyes Challenge to Virginia Sen. Mark Warner

Sunday, 08 Dec 2013 07:23 AM

By Elliot Jager

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Ed Gillespie is weighing a run for the Virginia senate seat held by Democrat Mark Warner, Politico reported.

Gillespie told a Republican retreat Saturday in Hot Springs, "It's safe to say that there's people talking about it here, and I'm listening to them. I've been flattered to have it raised."

A senior adviser to Mitt Romney in 2012 and a former Republican National Committee chairman in 2003-2004, Gillespie would not have to file his candidacy until Feb. 1.

Warner is generally viewed favorably by 57 percent of state voters in a recent Washington Free Beacon poll. At the same time, 45 percent said they would consider a fresh face, and 49 percent of independents said they were ready for a change.

Gillespie's entry would make the Virginia race competitive, heightening prospects that the GOP could capture the senate in 2014. Republicans would need to pick up six seats to do so.

Gillespie, 52, a longtime Republican strategist, serves on the board of trustees for the Catholic University of America. He would probably have little difficulty capturing the GOP senatorial nomination.

Conservatives have criticized him for his association with the economic policies of president George W. Bush and for his support of immigration reform.

Meanwhile, Ken Cuccinelli, who narrowly lost his bid in the Virginia governor's race to Democrat Terry McAuliffe, told the same Republican gathering that he was out of the race.

"Just so you're clear, I'm not running against Mark Warner."

For his part, Gillespie said, "Mark Warner has not turned out to be the senator a lot of Virginians thought he would be. People thought he was going to be fiscally responsible; he voted for a trillion dollar stimulus bill. People thought he was going to be an independent voice; he's voted on average 97 percent of the time with the president. He told us he wouldn't support any bill that would mean that people who like the insurance they have would lose it; we know that's not true."

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