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GOP Establishment Endorses Mullins

Anita Kumar

Jeff Frederick may not be running for GOP chairman this week but that doesn't mean the race isn't going to be the same establishment vs. grassroots battle it was last year when Frederick won and this year when Frederick was ousted.

Tonight, Pat Mullins, the chairman who succeeded Frederick, announced that he had received the support of Republican gubernatorial nominee Bob McDonnell, the state's five GOP congressmen and House Speaker Bill Howell.

"Pat provides our party with a dedicated conservative leader who comes from the grassroots of our party and understands what it takes to win in a competitive state,'' McDonnell said.

But Jeb Wilkinson, Mullins' campaign manager, said Mullins is supported by many people in addition to elected officials, including grassroots activists who supported Frederick.

The release of the impressive endorsement list must mean Mullins is worried about his rival, Bill Stanley, a lawyer from Franklin County who is backed by many Frederick supporters.

For weeks, it appeared as if McDonnell would stay out of the chairman's race (maybe because he was sorry he got into the Frederick drama). His spokesman did not respond to repeated inquiries about a possible endorsement and even Mullins said McDonnell was staying out of the race.

But then tonight, Mullins unveiled a list that also includes U.S. Reps. Rob Wittman, Randy Forbes, Bob Goodlatte, Eric Cantor and Frank Wolf.

"Pat Mullins is the conservative leader we need right now,'' Cantor said.

Also endorsing Mullins were most Republican leaders of the House of Delegates.

Noticeably missing from the list are Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling and House Majority Leader Morgan Griffith. So far, Bolling and Griffith are not publicly endorsing either candidate.

Mullins and Stanley, leader of the Franklin County Republican Committee, will run for the job this Saturday at the state convention.

By Anita Kumar  |  May 25, 2009; 9:18 PM ET
Categories:  Anita Kumar  
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