November 20, 2007
Former Governor Jim Gilmore's declaration that he will run for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by John Warner next year is hardly unexpected, but it does raise interesting questions. The Washington Post put it this way: "Do [voters] prefer a social conservative who cut taxes but left a deficit, or a centrist businessman who balanced the budget but raised taxes?" Gilmore has a clear advantage over Warner in terms of national security issues and involvement in national-level politics, but his strong affiliation with the Republican (anti-tax) "Base" limits his potential appeal to results-oriented centrist voters. Today's Times Dispatch cartoon by Gary Brookins suggested that Gilmore has a "snowball's chance in hell" of beating Mark Warner, so you have to wonder what incentive he has to make such a sacrifice. If Gilmore fails to at least make a strong showing against Warner (45%?), it might be the end of his career in electoral politics.
The Post article mentioned that Delegate Chris Saxman is considering entering that race as well. Yesterday's News Leader reported that Saxman said that several of his legislative colleagues have asked him to enter the race. It seems a bit premature for a junior member of the House of Delegates (first elected in 2001), but Saxman has earned respect during his time in Richmond. Like Gilmore, he is closely associated with the anti-tax faction of the GOP. In contrast to Gilmore, Saxman has little to lose and would stand to gain lots of publicity from embarking on such a campaign. Indeed, many political leaders got their start by taking on impossible odds, and later went on to stellar heights. (Remember Bill Clinton in 1991?)
Here is an interesting interactive graphic chart showing a Percentage Breakdown Of Faith & Political Affiliation. (Hat tip to Connie.)