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Breaking down the GOP Senate race

The Top Story by Chris Graham

The last time that you were paying any attention to the U.S. Senate race, former governor Jim Gilmore was the Republican candidate.

Be careful now, though, because Gilmore has two opponents for that GOP nomination that you might have assumed was an automatic.

Northern Virginia state delegate Bob Marshall and NoVa-based party activist Bob Berry are challenging Gilmore for the nomination. And perhaps surprisingly, they are running to the right of Gov. No Car Tax.

“You’re still paying the car tax,” Marshall pointed out to me in an interview for today’s “New Dominion Show.” “You just pay the state, and the state pays back whatever it is, 60, 70 percent, depending on the locality that you’re in. And in fact Jim did preside over the largest rise, I believe, in state expenditures. And then he would be running against the governor, if he won, who has presided over the largest tax increase. So it’s two establishment people running against each other.”

Marshall is known as one of the more socially conservative members of the Virginia General Assembly. He is also taking shots at Gilmore on social issues, including his record on illegal immigration and abortion.

Marshall said that he had made contact with Gilmore back when the former governor was making his aborted run at the Republican Party presidential nomination last year to offer his help in making contacts with fellow social conservatives. Gilmore did not reply to the request, which Marshall said “surprised” him “until I looked at his record a little more in depth.”

“I thought when he was governor that he just addressed things that he could do as a governor. But that was a surprise to me. In fact, Mark Warner signed a bill for informed consent, and Jim Gilmore did one for the 24-hour waiting period. So if you want to say that makes you pro-life, then Mark Warner is just as pro-life as Jim Gilmore,” Marshall said.

Berry is, like Marshall, hitting Gilmore where it shouldn’t hurt, by all accounts, at Gilmore’s conservative base, implying that Gilmore would go back on those conservative principles if the situation presented itself.

“As a conservative, I’ve been watching what’s been happening across the nation, and how our nation has been interacting with the world and so forth. And I have seen more and more how our leaders, and even some leaders in our own party, are compromising their own principles, and sort of giving up on the basic things that we believe in, and adopting the world view of the more liberal members of Congress,” Berry said in an interview for today’s show.

“The professional credentials of the other two are good and great and adequate. And mine are good, too, in terms of really having what it takes to understand in detail the issues that we’re covering in today’s Senate – not only domestically, but in the world as well in terms of how we’re dealing with the complex issues of other countries. The real difference is what kind of man, and in this case there are three men vying for the nomination, what kind of man, in terms of his own character, do we want in that position?” Berry said.

“I say that we don’t want a person who’s going to go up there and get a phone call one day, and all of the sudden change his mind about one of these basic principles,” Berry said.

Gilmore, for his part, is focused on rallying the party behind his seemingly inevitable general-election candidacy and aiming at Mark Warner, the presumptive Democratic Party nominee and favorite in the November race.

First things first, though.

“The big challenge that we all as Republicans have is to unite the party. We’ve lost several statewide races, and one of the keys to a Republican victory is going to be a unified party. My goal has been to do that, and so far I think we’re enjoying a very big success,” Gilmore said in an interview for today’s “New Dominion Show.”
“We are beginning to make the case that I am the candidate who can in fact beat Mark Warner. And we have to make the case that winning this election is something that we can do and should do. These things used to be automatic, but the party has been so divided that we have to now find ways to pull it together,” Gilmore said.

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