Former Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie is seriously considering a run against Sen. Mark WarnerMark WarnerNo time to relax: A digital security commission for the next generation Army posthumously awards female veteran who served as WWII spy The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE (D-Va.).
"I'm going to take some time to talk with fellow Virginia Republicans about how we best win this pivotal Senate seat and, of course, with my own family, who come ahead of politics. I'll let you know what we decide."
Gillespie would give Republicans a credible candidate against Warner, a popular senator, should he choose to run. The longtime strategist and head of the Republican State Leadership Conference remains an influential voice in the party and is one of his party's top fundraisers.
Warner will likely be hard to beat — according to most polls, he's the most popular politician in the state. An August Quinnipiac poll found his approval rating at 61 percent in Virginia, with 25 percent disapproving. But Gillespie could make the race competitive.
Gillespie painted Warner as a partisan Democrat and attacked him for voting too much with President Obama.
"Mark Warner's not turned out to be the senator so many Virginians thought he would be," he says. "They thought he’d be an independent voice, but he’s voted with President Obama 97 percent of the time since he got elected with him in 2008. They thought he’d be fiscally responsible, but he voted for a trillion dollar stimulus bill that borrowed from future generations to waste on pork barrel spending. And he promised he’d never vote for a bill that would mean people losing the insurance they like if they wanted to keep it, then cast the deciding vote in favor of Obamacare."
Virginia, once a solidly Republican state, has trended Democratic over the last decade, and Democrats currently hold both Senate seats and the governorship. Obama won the state twice, though by narrow margins.
Gillespie indicated he's in no hurry to decide on a run. The state's filing deadline is Feb. 1.
"Between now and the convention in June, our party will work through the best way to challenge Senator Warner, knowing that if we can win in Virginia we’ll very likely win control of the Senate for the last two years of the Obama Presidency, which would have a major impact on the future of the country," he says.