It has been a week or so since the latest Quinnipiac poll came out showing Gillespie up by 16 and Perriello up by 5. Buried in the information though were Kaine’s resounding 20 point leads over talk show host Laura Ingraham and former California gubernatorial and former presidential candidate Carly Fiorina…
Quinnipiac missed the mark.
Gilmore has been shortlisted for ambassador to Germany, a diplomatically sensitive and high-profile position that would speak well to Gilmore’s background on national security issues as well as his standing in the intelligence community. Davis is currently well ensconced at Deloitte, working for their public affairs division and recently retained to lobby on behalf of Washington D.C.’s beleaguered Metro system.
Yet sources close to The Jeffersoniad insist that the real race for 2018 will be whether Virginia’s Republican leadership — sorely tested this year in a combative 2017 where the Democrats appear to be running downhill in a serious way — will continue outsourcing talent rather than looking back home — and those contenders bear familiar names: Tom Davis and Jim Gilmore.
Davis’ re-entry into the Virginia political climate would be an interesting move indeed. Though roundly considered to be a centrist by the standards of yesteryear, Davis’ hard nosed approach to China followed by a commitment to fiscal prudence and ambivalence on social issues puts him remarkably ahead of his time for the constituency in Northern Virginia, one that Trump lost by 280,000 votes with a divided and rudderless Republican apparatus where Hillary trounced the nominee by 212,000 votes overall.
That brings Governor Jim Gilmore back to the forefront, where he too has proven to be both prophet and prognosticator.
The last serious tax cut in Virginia? The last real aggressive push towards workforce development? The last Republican who aggressively courted the African-American vote? All championed by Jim Gilmore…
Education reform? Transportation reform? Heck — the last time Republicans were united around a candidate in the post-Allen era? Sure, we had a temporary glimmer of what could have been under McDonnell… but Gilmore did stuff that rolled back the size and scope of the state government that lasted.
Quite frankly, there are few Virginia Republicans that can unite the disparate parts of the electorate at the moment. Davis has shown an uncanny ability to predict and survive the political climate. Gilmore has shown a surprising resiliency as well, and as the degree of respect with which he is held in Washington becomes more apparent, Gilmore’s ability to unite the Trump establishment with les grognards among conservatives in Virginia would form a formidable obstacle to any challenge from outside.
Better than the individuals polled in the Quinnipiac poll, Davis and Gilmore are far better contenders for the U.S. Senate nod — and they are watching the 2017 environment closely to gauge their chances the following year.
Moreover — though neither party is giving serious commitment to consideration as of yet — both parties are putting the very edge of their big toes into the water.
Of course, Virginia’s 2018 dynamics are looking to be a reprisal of 2008’s electoral chances, both men could demur. Yet the candidacies of either Davis or Gilmore would be interesting in an age where most of their rivals have gone by the wayside, not to mention a compelling due of alternatives to C-list mediocrity — and would be even more compelling should Governor Gillespie be in Richmond to help give the eventual nominee a push.
It would certainly be a reprise of the Gilmore-Davis primary that never happened in 2008… in favor of a Gilmore-Marshall convention that very nearly went the other way.