January 10, 2014
Ed Gillespie, the former Republican National Committee chairman and a top Washington, D.C. lobbyist, will reportedly announce his bid for Senate in Virginia next week to challenge incumbent Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA). The New York Times describes Gillespie’s bid as an effort by “mainstream Virginia Republicans to retake control” from the Tea Party.
Gillespie is closely associated with Karl Rove, whom Tea Party conservatives have grown to distrust after groups affiliated with him spent more than $100 million in 2012 with no wins to show for the spending. Gillespie and Rove were the two most prominent people associated with Crossroads network when it formed around 2010, right as the Tea Party was becoming a force that would propel Republicans to historic gains in the midterm elections.
The Times recognizes that Gillespie’s “long history as a lobbyist” at a time when those outside of Washington, D.C. are revolting against Boomtown’s permanent political class, in addition to his being an “unapologetic supporter of a comprehensive immigration overhaul,” may make it more difficult for him to win over the state’s conservatives. Gillespie will have to win their support since he will have to win the nomination at a party convention, which favors conservatives, instead of a primary.