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Gilmore Advisers Think Saxman is Bluffing

Tim Craig

Advisers to GOP Senate candidate James S. Gilmore III say they don't think Del. Christopher B. Saxman (R-Staunton) will enter the race for the nomination.

As Gilmore announced his candidacy yesterday, Saxman was conducting media interviews to say he is seriously considering entering the race. Saxman argues the party needs a fresh face to go against former governor Mark R. Warner, the likely Democratic nominee.

But Dick Leggitt, a senior Gilmore adviser, said he thinks Saxman is bluffing.

"He is just trying to raise his name ID because he wants to run for lieutenant governor" in 2009, Leggitt said. "We talked to 20 legislators in the last day and we can't find anyone who says anything other than this is Gilmore's nomination."

Leggitt said Saxman is playing a game of "hey, look at me." He called Saxman "a nice guy, but not a serious candidate."

Saxman was not immediately available for comment.

Leggitt stresses the Republican Party cannot afford a divisive fight for the nomination or the nominee would likely lose to Warner. "We've got to unite this party to win," Leggitt said. "We've got to get all the Republicans pulling the plow in the same direction and we don't underestimate how difficult that will be."

Leggitt said the threat of a Saxman candidacy is actually helping Gilmore's campaign get off the ground. "We have been flooded with calls from people we didn't expect to hear from this early saying, 'We want to help. What can we do'?"

By Tim Craig  |  November 20, 2007; 5:23 PM ET
Categories:  Election 2009 , James Gilmore III , Tim Craig  
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