Virginia Republicans are chattering that former Republican National Committee chairman Ed Gillespie, who narrowly lost a 2014 Senate bid to Democratic Sen. Mark Warner, is ready to run for political office again. Gillespie has been widely considered a potential gubernatorial candidate since his November loss. But r eports of Gillespie's intentions to launch a bid surfaced after GOP state Sen. Mark Obenshain, a friend of Gillespie's, announced Monday that he would not seek the executive mansion. Aides to Gillespie told CNN Monday afternoon that a formal announcement of his campaign will come "at the appropriate time."
"I think they had an agreement," former Rep. Tom Davis told CQ Roll Call on Monday. "But I don't know if that's the last word," Davis added, suggesting other Republicans are likely to get into the race.
Obenshain told the Washington Post he hopes Gillespie runs, but he did not rule out running for statewide office himself at a later date.
A former lobbyist, Hill staffer and White House aide, Gillespie chaired the Republican State Leadership Committee before running for Senate. He's currently chairman emeritus of the RSLC. As a longtime political strategist, Gillespie would be the establishment candidate.
Davis thinks it's smart of Gillespie to get in early, but "it's a long road," he cautioned. "Convention politics are tough."
Gillespie successfully unified the state party at its 2014 nominating convention. But he went on to lose the general election by less than one point. He decided against contesting the results and conceded the race three days after Election Day. GOP White House hopefuls, including Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, campaigned for Gillespie during that race.
The commonwealth’s executive slot will be open in 2017, when Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe is term-limited out of the position. McAuliffe, a former head of the Democratic National Committee, defeated former Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli in 2013.