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Saxman Set To Make Decision on Senate Bid

Tim Craig

Del. Christopher B. Saxman (R-Staunton) will announce this weekend whether he plans to challenge former governor James S. Gilmore III for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate.

In an interview today, Saxman said he will tell party activists his decision during the Virginia Republican Party Advance in Crystal City. Saxman is scheduled to address the annual GOP retreat Saturday afternoon, after Gilmore addresses the group.

In recent weeks, Saxman has been meeting with dozens of local, state and federal party officials to gauge whether he should enter the race. Some Republicans fear Gilmore is not the party's best candidate to take on former governor Mark R. Warner, the likely Democratic nominee.

"I will announce this weekend," said Saxman, 42. "The time is too compressed. We can't leave these things out there until the end of the year. It's time to move on with a decision."

Saxman won't say if he is leaning towards making the run, but several Republicans say they won't be surprised if he enters the race.

"I got a few more pieces of the puzzle to put together and we will make an informed decision," said Saxman, who was elected to the House in 2001. " I want to be able to stand up and say what I am going to say and move on."

If Saxman enters the race, he would try to position himself as a fresh alternative to Gilmore. In recent interviews, Saxman said he would like the GOP to focus on quality of issues, such as education and transportation.

But Saxman could also run to the right of Gilmore on the issue of abortion, an important issue to party activists who will decide the nominee at the state party convention in May.

Gilmore has said in the past he supports abortion rights during the first trimester. Saxman has consistently opposed abortion-rights.

By Tim Craig  |  November 29, 2007; 3:16 PM ET
Categories:  Election 2008/U.S. Senate , James Gilmore III , Tim Craig  
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