Virginia: Gilmore Ekes Out Win for GOP Senate Nod

Posted June 2, 2008 at 6:32pm

Former Gov. Jim Gilmore narrowly beat out state Del. Bob Marshall on Saturday at the Virginia Republican Party convention in Richmond to secure his party’s Senate nomination.

Gilmore, an anti-tax conservative, came into the convention as the favorite after Rep. Tom Davis (R) chose to pass on the race last fall. But Marshall, a darling of Christian conservatives who staunchly opposes gay rights and abortion rights, put up a tough fight.

Despite being far better known statewide, Gilmore captured just 50.3 percent of the delegate vote. Gilmore will now face another former governor, Mark Warner (D), in the race to replace retiring Sen. John Warner (R).

Mark Warner will be his party’s official nominee after the state Democratic convention, which will take place June 13-15 in Hampton. But Mark Warner is already on the air with television ads stressing his bipartisan message.

His first broadcast and cable ad was released on Saturday, and the one-minute piece talks about the former governor’s efforts to turn the worst budget shortfall in Virginia history into a surplus by the time he left office. Interestingly, though the ad discusses the “budget mess” Mark Warner inherited, it doesn’t mention that Gilmore was his predecessor in the governor’s mansion.

Also Saturday, former Lt. Gov. John Hager was ousted as chairman of the Virginia Republican Party by state Del. Jeff Frederick. Hager is the father of Henry Hager, who recently married President Bush’s daughter Jenna.

— John McArdle