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Gilmore's First Ad (Updated)

Tim Craig

As reported in Monday's Washington Post, Republican Senate Candidate James S. Gilmore III has begun airing his first campaign commercial.

In the ad, which is airing in television markets downstate but not in Northern Virginia, a narrator criticizes Democratic Candidate Mark R. Warner and seeks to link him to Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.). Gilmore tries to associate himself with Arizona Sen. John McCain, the Republican nominee for president.

The Virginia Republican Party is paying for the ad, but Gilmore authorized it.

Democratic strategists describe the ad, which won't be released to the media until today, as a meager $80,000 buy, but it still underscores the following eight points:

1) Gilmore is still having trouble raising money because the state party, not his campaign, is paying for the ad, according to GOP officials.

2) Del. Jeffrey M. Frederick (R-Prince William), the chairman of the Virginia Republican Party, has decided the GOP cannot afford either politically or morally to sit back and let Gilmore get clobbered in the Nov. 4 election.

3) State GOP officials and strategists believe Gilmore can try to latch onto whatever momentum and enthusiasm has been created by the selection of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as Sen. John McCain's running mate.

4) By focusing their limited resources targeting voters downstate instead of in vote-rich Northern Virginia, Republicans still don't think Gilmore has locked up the conservative base. Gilmore's ad, for example, aired Sunday morning on a Richmond television station that was broadcasting a religious service.

5) The state GOP, which had only $142,000 in its federal account as of July 31, is confident that the national party will finance McCain's get-out-the vote efforts.

6) If Gilmore gains even a few points in the polls this week because of the ad, he will be able to go to GOP donors and ask for more money to launch more ads.

7) Gilmore's ad may get a lot of free media coverage today because many reporters will be surprised he's managed to find a way to get on the air, even though he had just $116,000 in the bank on June 30.

8) With Warner sitting on $5 million, Gilmore and the state GOP may have just unleashed a monster. Warner has been off the air since early August, but expect him to hit back continuously until Election Day if he feels Gilmore's ad is too harsh.

By Tim Craig  |  September 8, 2008; 2:20 PM ET
Categories:  Campaign Ads , Election 2008/U.S. Senate , James Gilmore III , Mark Warner , Tim Craig  
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As a person who takes a close interest in politics, but doesn't bother to put my money where my mouth is (i.e., I don't contribute to candidates), I have a hard time understanding the psychology of donors who would give to Gilmore's campaign (or to the state Repub committee to help them help him). Is it really worth the effort to turn a 25-point loss into a 15-point "squeaker", which is the best I think you could hope for? Unless they somehow think this could indirectly help McCain in the state, by getting some of the base excited (the Palin pick is doing that by itself), I just don't see the point here.

Posted by: JJ | September 8, 2008 9:59 AM | Report abuse

Mr. Gilmore has turned into an embarrassment for the Republican Party in Virginia. He is not even remotely competitive. Many Republicans are obviously favoring his opponent Mark Warner.

This is a year where Republican candidates are at a minimum running neck in neck in the Commonwealth. In the 11th Congressional District, Keith Fimian is running an effective, independent campaign against a tough insider politician. Where is Gilmore?

Did the Virginia State GOP "wise men" really push and pick the best US Senate candidate?

The Party brass in Richmond is now reaping what they sowed.

Posted by: Fairfax | September 8, 2008 11:00 AM | Report abuse

Anybody but that butt-kisser of the developers, Gerry Connolly.

Posted by: Go Fimian! | September 8, 2008 2:19 PM | Report abuse

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