Gillespie should be able to get through Virginia's GOP nominating convention. (Matthew Cavanaugh/Getty Images File Photo)
With the stink of their party’s statewide sweep not yet three months old, Virginia Republicans said Ed Gillespie should have little trouble winning the GOP Senate nomination in June and advancing to take on Democrat Mark Warner.
Republicans concede that Gillespie, a former lobbyist and political consultant who announced his candidacy last week, faces a challenging fight against the first-term senator and popular former governor. But getting through the state GOP’s nominating convention, which invites a more conservative swath of the party than a primary and last year produced a surprising result, should not be nearly as significant a hurdle.
As former Gov. Bob McDonnell’s felony indictment Tuesday and a state Senate victory for the Democrats added to Republicans’ woes, elected officials and party insiders said last year’s stinging losses in races for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general have left GOP activists clamoring for, above all, a conservative candidate who can raise the kind of money it will take to legitimately compete with Warner.
Gillespie “does have to take [the convention] seriously, but I think people want to win a statewide race in Virginia,” Rep. Morgan Griffith, R-Va., said. “Having lost three races last fall, I think they recognize we need a candidate who is in the hunt when it comes to the last part of the race … and that means somebody who is capable of raising the money.” Full story