July 14, 2007

Gilmore Goes

One Republican presidential candidate has called it quits -- and probably not the one most would have guessed. Jim Gilmore, former governor of Virginia, has decided to end his campaign after two quarters of having no impact on the race at all:

Former Virginia governor James S. Gilmore III ended his long-shot Republican presidential campaign yesterday, saying he was unable to raise enough money to communicate his conservative vision to Americans. He held out the possibility, however, that he might soon run for public office again in Virginia.

Gilmore, the son of a butcher who had improbably risen to become a local prosecutor, a state attorney general and a governor of Virginia, dropped out of the crowded GOP primary field a day before reporting that he had raised $211,000 between April and June.

Since January, he has raised $381,000, while his rivals have collected tens of millions of dollars.

In a field crowded in both parties with candidates lacking in executive experience, one might have expected Gilmore to get more traction. Gilmore never caught fire, and for a couple of reasons. First, although he had to have some connections to big donors from his days as RNC chair, he never raised any serious funds for his campaign. He obviously could not keep up with the big dogs, or even the small dogs, for that matter. He only raised a tenth of what Ron Paul raised in the same period, and Ron Paul attracts less than one percent of the vote in national polling.

One can overcome bad fundraising with great messaging. Unfortunately, that was Gilmore's other Achilles heel. Gilmore never added anything to the debate, especially during the televised debates. When asked questions on policy, Gilmore would give nebulous answers promising a return to real conservatism but only occasionally answering the actual questions.

I met Gimore briefly at CPAC, and he seems like an intelligent fellow. He never gave me any indication why anyone should consider him for the presidency, or even why he himself was running for the office, however, and that showed in his campaign. In the end, it seems like even Gilmore had trouble convincing himself that he was a serious candidate.

The Washington Post reports that Gilmore may decide to run for John Warner's Senate seat if Warner retires as expected in 2008. That may be a better choice for Gilmore, but he'll have to do better in explaining to Virginians what he wants to accomplish than he did with Republicans across the nation in his presidential bid.


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Comments (8)

Posted by Bennett | July 14, 2007 10:31 PM

Jim Gilmore was running for President? I haven't followed things that closely, way too early yet but I honestly didn't remember he'd even thrown his hat in the ring. Ah well, many are called but few are chosen.

Slightly, off topic but what is so improbable about the son of a butcher becoming a prosecutor, attorney general and state governor? Seems like a touch of class snobbery there from the Post reporter.

Posted by Faith1 | July 14, 2007 10:50 PM

As a Virginian who has experienced Mr Gilmore before let me say, pffft. No big loss. He wasn't a bad governor but not a great one either. Somewhat of an empty suit who looked good on TV and shook hands but didn't really DO anything.

Your impression of him during the debate is the same one I had of him as Governor.

Posted by Douglas V. Gibbs | July 15, 2007 12:05 AM

In a brief e-mail today with Gilmore he has agreed to talk about his withdrawal on Political Pistachio Radio on my next broadcast. I will tell you more as it comes available.

Posted by Adjoran | July 15, 2007 12:07 AM

Congratulations, Governor, for waking up and smelling the coffee!

Now, if we can only convince the other also rans - Paul, Tancredo, Huckabee, T. Thompson, Hunter, and Brownback - to do likewise, we could have a serious debate among the serious candidates.

Posted by AnonymousDrivel | July 15, 2007 1:52 AM

RE: Adjoran (July 15, 2007 12:07 AM)

You mean cull the most conservative? Seems to me we ought to encourage their continued campaigning to keep the ideas, even potentially contentious ones, flowing. I sure don't want to start whittling off the Right in hopes of grabbing the Left. Just about all of the candidates could be serious candidates if the GOP or Independents didn't follow the leads partially contrived and certainly perpetuated by media.

I'm sorry to see Gilmore go not because I necessarily supported him over someone else (I didn't) but because I want to hear his brand of conservatism, weigh it against other brands of "conservatism," and see which candidates adopt which platform as the party coalesces for the primaries. The GOP will establish stronger planks if it is a larger group establishing them. I'd hate to settle on a sort of reductivism by limiting the options/ideas advanced by but the "Big Three."

Posted by davod | July 15, 2007 5:18 AM

I would like to know what happens to the money he has raised.

Posted by Ric James | July 15, 2007 6:53 AM

Given Warner's performance of late, Gilmore might not have to work as hard as he might have to give Virginians a reason to vote him into Warner's Senate seat.

Posted by Bender | July 15, 2007 10:41 AM

Bad news for congressman Tom Davis, who was the presumptive Republican nominee to replace John Warner. Gilmore ain't great, but he's a solid and dependable conservative, whereas Davis is another self-important moderate. One thing the Senate does not need is more Lindsey Grahams, and a Davis nomination will leave many Republican voters at home on election day, resulting in a Democrat Mark Warner victory. A Gilmore Senate candidacy makes it much more likely that the seat will stay Republican.