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Gilmore Winning Conservative Support

Tim Craig

Two of the nation's leading conservative activists announced today they are supporting former Gov. James Gilmore if he decides to seek the the Republican nomination for the Senate seat being vactated by John W. Warner (R).

David Keene, chairman of the American Conservative Union, and Paul Weyrich, executive of the Free Congress Foundation, said in a joint letter that Gilmore is the Republican Party's " best opportunity to hold on to Senator Warner's seat in the election in November of 2008."

"He is honest, consistent and conservative," Keene and Weyrich wrote.

Gilmore is currently trying to decide whether to the run for Warner's Senate seat. If Gilmore runs, he could face Rep. Thomas M. Davis III (R-Va) for the GOP nominatinon. The winner would then face former Gov. Mark R. Warner (D) in the general election.

Weyrich and Keene, both of whom have been mainstays in the conservative movement for decades, urged conservatives to call Gilmore to encourage him to run.

They cited Gilmore's record as governor during the late 1990s. Weyrich and Keene said Gilmore, who was in office from 1998 to 2002, cut 16 different state taxes. Despite his opposition to taxes, Gilmore was able to advance several transportation projects in Northern Virginia, including the construction of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge, the mixing bowl and an expansion of Virginia Railway Express, Weyrich and Keene said.

The letter reinforces several arguments being made by Gilmore supporters who say Davis is too moderate.

"As Governor, Jim Gilmore stood for the sanctity of life and the preservation of traditional family values time and time again," the two conservative activists said. "He pushed through successful legislation that created a 24-hour waiting period for women seeking an abortion, required parental notification for minors seeking an abortion and banned partial birth abortion. He also signed into law legislation banning human cloning."

Weyrich and Keene also noted that Gilmore serves on the National Rifle Association's board of directors. "He believes gun ownership is based on the American tradition of personal responsibility and he is committed to protecting the rights of hunters, sportsmen and gun owners," Weyrich and Keene wrote.

Weyrich and Keene also tried to undercut the argument that Davis would have more appeal in Northern Virginia, which has been trending Democratic. They noted Gilmore carried Northern Virginia during his bid for governor and his 1993 race for Attorney General.

By Tim Craig  |  September 17, 2007; 11:39 AM ET
Categories:  Election 2008/U.S. Senate , James Gilmore III , Tim Craig  
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