BY: Ryan Nobles
Former Republican National Committee Chairman and George W. Bush confidante Ed Gillespie (R) will announce his plans to challenge Sen. Mark Warner (D) in the race for U.S. Senate today.
Gillespie's plans are not a surprise, he has been mulling a run for several weeks. A source will direct knowledge of the candidate's plans confirms to NBC12 that Gillespie will launch a website Thursday formally announcing his intention to run.
Gillespie will not hold a formal press conference today, but instead will begin working his way around the Commonwealth, meeting with activists in preparation for the June convention in Roanoke that will decide the party's nominee.
Two other republicans have announced their plans to seek the nomination. Howie Lind, a Navy Veteran and 10th Congressional District Republican Committee Chairman and businessman Shak Hill.
While Gillespie is well known in political circles and has the potential to raise a lot of money, his challenge to Warner is still considered a long shot. Warner is still very popular with voters and will have a significant fund raising war chest of his own.
However, Gillespie's entry into the race makes the U.S. Senate campaign in Virginia far more competitive than anyone had originally anticipated.
We will keep you updated as to when the Gillespie web site is formally launched.
Gillespie's campaign is officially underway. Here is opening video announcement:
Gillespie's campaign website is now up at: www.edforsenate.com.
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee reacted quickly to he Gillespie announcement calling him a career lobbyist and tying him to President Bush:
“Ed Gillespie’s campaign is based on a false and dishonest premise – not surprising given Gillespie’s background as a Washington special interest lobbyist and ultra-partisan Washington spin doctor. The truth is that Mark Warner is recognized by both Democrats and Republicans as a leader in the Senate in working across party lines to achieve common sense solutions, and Virginians won’t be fooled by the negative campaign of Gillespie and his special interest allies.“When Virginians get to know Ed Gillespie, they won’t like what they see. He was Enron’s go-to guy in Washington, and the paid lobbyist for other special interests whose agenda was out of step with the interests of Virginians. He is a hypocrite on health care reform who was a lead lobbyist for an individual mandate. He was the mouthpiece for the Bush Administration policies that turned a surplus into a deficit and left our economy in shambles.“The last thing Virginians need in Washington is a career lobbyist with a partisan history of slash-and-burn politics that divides Virginians.” -Matt Canter, Deputy Executive Director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee