Washington lobbyist and Republican political operative Ed Gillespie made Virginia political news last week with this video announcement that he plans to challenge Mark Warner for Senate this year. This decision apparently pleases Virginia GOP political activists: state Republican Party Chairman Pat Mullins, for example, called Gillespie a “good candidate” in this Bearing Drift op-ed (intended more to frame Jeff Shapiro as a Warner supporter than to call for a Gillespie run).
Some think Governor McAuliffe’s success offers reasons for optimism despite Warner’s popularity (57% total approval rating according to this poll). Bearing Drift columnists Norm Leahy and Paul Goldman argue in a Washington Post editorial that Gillespie’s lobbying background won’t hurt him given the way McAuliffe overcame his own political fundraiser history. And Shaun Kenney, also at Bearing Drift, makes a case that Warner should fear Gillespie’s candidacy, mostly because he believes the challenger will be able to mobilize conservatives in the state while painting Warner as responsible for the Affordable Care Act. Continue reading