Ed Gillespie confirmed in an email to The Washington Post on Friday that he plans to run for governor in 2017.
Gillespie, a former Republican National Committee chair, ran surprisingly well in his 2014 Senate race against incumbent Democrat Mark Warner, who won by less than 18,000 votes despite enjoying strong approval ratings.
Harrisonburg State Sen. Mark Obenshain announced earlier this week that he will not run for the Republican gubernatorial nomination. Obenshain, who narrowly lost his 2013 bid for attorney general to Democrat Mark Herring, had been considered an early favorite for the GOP nomination for governor.
Gillespie said in his email to the Post that his focus now is “helping keep our Republican majority in the General Assembly, and next year it will be ensuring that our Republican presidential nominee wins Virginia.”
“But with my friend Mark Obenshain making clear he won’t be running in 2017, I’ll start laying a foundation to run myself after our elections here are over next month,” Obenshain said.
The Democratic Party of Virginia wasted no time welcoming Gillespie to the 2017 race, issuing a statement through its press secretary labeling him “Enron Ed,” referring to Gillespie’s stint as a lobbyist for the disgraced energy giant Enron.
“While Enron Ed thinks he deserves a second shot at political office, Virginia voters know better than to trust the self-proclaimed ‘partisan lobbyist’ any more this time around,” DPVA Press Secretary Morgan Finkelstein said. “No matter who declares for governor next, one thing’s certain – the Republican caucus will be a race to the right-wing extremes.”
– Story by Chris Graham