In 2014, Ed Gillespie shocked the political world by nearly toppling popular incumbent Democrat Senator Mark Warner. But, as the old saying goes, coming close only counts in horse shoes and hand grenades. Ultimately, Gillespie came up short.
So, why bring this up now? Well, it’s true that 2014 was generally a favorable year for Republicans, providing a very friendly climate to Republican challengers everywhere. It’s a shame that wave didn’t break in Virginia, too. But it’s also true that Gillespie took on the most popular politician in the state, a task regarded as a sure loser by pundits and the donor class. In many respects, Gillespie was abandoned and forgotten by national GOP groups in favor of candidates whose prospects they judged to be more promising.
In that setting, it would have been easy for Gillespie to pander for votes, and to “fine tune” his message to suit the audience. Indeed, conventional establishment wisdom would have led Gillespie to attempt what several other statewide Republican candidates have tried to do in recent decades, which is to run one campaign in Northern Virginia and a completely different one in the “real Virginia,” so as to soften his conservative edges in the vote-rich and relatively moderate Washington suburbs.
But Ed Gillespie didn’t do that. Instead, he stuck to the same message that delivered him the nomination. He could have prevaricated on life, on civil liberties, on taxes, jobs, and the economy. Somewhere there was probably a consultant or two that would have urged him to do just that to try to gain a few points here or there with white suburban working moms, or with federal workers, or some other targeted demographic. But Ed Gillespie didn’t do that.
Like many conservatives, I had my reservations about Ed in 2014, given his history with the Bush administration and that administration’s sometimes non-existent relationship with conservatism. But Ed told us that it’s one thing to serve at the pleasure of the President of the United States, and entirely something different to be one’s own man. He pointed us to his previous work with Dick Armey, and on the Contract with America, as examples of the kind of work he could be trusted to do.
His actions—not just his words—have borne this out. In 2014, Ed ran a grassroots-driven campaign focused intensely on small groups and individuals to get his message out and to engage the Republican activist base. He succeeded magnificently in that respect, and did so while staying true to the promises that won him the nomination. In the years since then, he has continued his meticulous feeding, watering, and nurturing of the conservative grassroots.
Ed has gotten to know the conservative base, and the base has gotten to know and trust him, through tens of thousands of miles of travel, and hundreds of miles of shoe leather. Importantly, Ed has not just spoken to the grassroots, but he has also listened.
This is precisely the kind of behavior the conservative grassroots should reward in a politician. Some politicians will shun the grassroots, believing they can win a nomination in an air war predicated on enormous television ad buys. Not Ed. Instead, Ed has offered himself up directly to the grassroots for judgment on issues and principles, and has passed with flying colors on all accounts.
It is time Virginia Republicans show the state what we’re truly capable of accomplishing again. We have the opportunity in 2017 to nominate a solid, competent, trustworthy, principled, and honest conservative to lead us out of the wilderness and back to victory again. A candidate who shuns negativity and division, and instead builds success through growth and unity. That candidate’s name is Ed Gillespie.
The bottom line is that every time Ed Gillespie has had the opportunity to show us who he is, he’s proven himself to be the solid conservative we want him to be. He has run for office in precisely the way the conservative grassroots want a candidate to run: campaigning from the bottom up, and not the top down, and listening as much as talking. His actions have demonstrated he has the temperament, the background, and the principles to make the entire Commonwealth proud as our next Governor.
That’s why I am excited to join solid conservatives like Eric Herr, Rick Buchanan, Morton Blackwell, Sen. Dick Black, and so many others in supporting and enthusiastically endorsing Ed Gillespie for Governor. I encourage other Virginia conservatives to do the same.
Steve Albertson’s endorsement is his own, and does not necessarily reflect the beliefs of TheBullElephant.com or any of its individual contributors, each of whom remain free to back (or not back) competing candidates.