Saturday May 31, 2008
"My fellow republicans, my fellow Virginians, I accept your nomination for the candidacy of the United States Senate."
With those words, Jim Gilmore kicked off his bid Saturday as the GOP nominee for the U.S. Senate seat soon to be vacated by fellow republican John Warner. Standing in his way will be another popular Warner, democratic nominee and former Virginia governor Mark Warner.
In his acceptance speech, Gilmore didn't hold back about his new opponent.
"The fact of the matter," Gilmore started, "is that Mark Warner is just another Connecticut liberal like his mentor Chris Dodd; a limousine liberal who says one thing to get elected and then does something else once he's in office."
Going into the convention, Gilmore had the backing of a number of prominent Virginia republicans, some of whom spoke on his behalf.
"Elected leaders need to do in office what we promise to do on the election trail and make no mistake about it, Jim Gilmore keeps his promises," declared 7th District Rep. Eric I. Cantor (R-Va.).
The promise of Gilmore's political comeback was almost broken, however, by his opponent for the GOP nomination, Prince William Delegate Bob Marshall, who rode his conservative credentials to the cusp of victory.
"I was outspent 14-to-1," Marshall told supporters. "I started January 9. I came within 80 votes."
Marshall finished the convention with 49.7 percent of the vote to Gilmore's 50.3 percent.
When all was said and done, with her husband clearly dejected by his narrow defeat, it was Marshall's wife Catherine who helped him, and the convention, re-gain focus.
"Beat Mark Warner!" she reminded the crowd.
The other big vote at the convention came in the race for the state GOP chairmanship. Delegate Jeff Frederick knocked off the current party chair, former Lieutenant Governor John Hager.
Frederick will become the party's fifth chairman in five years.