Gillespie scores establishment win

 

Former Republican National Committee chairman Ed Gillespie clenched the Virginia GOP Senate nomination Saturday, setting up a run against Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) in November.

Gillespie won the nod Saturday at the Republican state convention in Roanoke.

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Gillespie, who was considered the frontrunner, gave establishment Republicans a major victory by defeating insurance agent Shak Hill, congressional staffer Tony DeTora and Chuck Moss, owner of a network consulting business.

Republican Party of Virginia Chairman Pat Mullins lauded Gillespie's "great campaign" and said she'd stump for him during the final election push. 

"Republicans have emerged from this convention unified, with one purpose - taking back the U.S. Senate, and returning Mark Warner to the private sector." "One team, one fight. Mark Warner is scared. And he has good reason to be," she said.

Before the vote, Gilespie told convention goers that the upcoming Senate race could mean more to the party than just removing Warner from office, according to the Roanoke Times.

Republicans are hoping to retake the Senate in the 2014 midterms and a Virginia win could make that a reality.

While Gillespie is considered an underdog in the general election, conservatives are pushing a message of optimism.

"Ed Gillespie is quietly running one of the strongest campaigns in America, with a working class message geared toward helping young workers find a good job with adequate pay and restoring economic stability for middle-class Virginians,” National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) said in a statement. "The strength of Ed's campaign has me looking forward to November and serving with him in a Republican majority in the 114th Congress," he continued, calling Warner a “rubber stamp” for the Obama administration.

Gillespie has previously served as a counselor to former President George W. Bush and campaign advisor to GOP's 2012 presidential contender Mitt Romney.

This story was updated at 5:07 p.m.