In an exclusive interview with The Bull Elephant, former 2014 U.S. Senate candidate Shak Hill has revealed he intends to run for the GOP nomination to replace Sen. Tim Kaine next year, in the unfortunate event that Kaine is elevated to the post of Vice President.
Hill joins an intriguing field of actual, potential, and rumored candidates positioning for a possible run.
First out of the gate was Del. Jimmie Massie (R-Henrico), who began to quietly spread the word that he intended to seek to replace Kaine immediately after the Republican Party’s state committee made its controversial decision designating a primary for the nomination of 2017 candidates for Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and Attorney General. Massie is a personable and gregarious presence, with deep ties to Richmond-area insiders and House leadership. Massie’s chief advantage in the race at the moment appears to be a good ability to raise money (and to self-fund, as necessary).
Campaigning for a seat that would only open up if the national Republican ticket fails can be dangerous. Recognizing the risk of being perceived to benefit from his party’s failure, Del. Massie has made a point of publicly supporting and campaigning for the Trump/Pence ticket over the last couple of months.
Next comes Rep. Dave Brat of Virginia’s 7th Congressional District. Numerous reports indicate that Brat is considering a 2017 run, if the seat opens up. Outside of a relatively small band of malcontents whose gravy trains were derailed when Brat defeated Eric Cantor in 2014, Brat is enormously popular among Republicans in his district and statewide, a fact not lost upon Brat. As an incumbent who would not be up for re-election until 2018, Brat has a free shot at a 2017 race: there is very little downside if he loses, as he’ll continue to keep his 7th District seat. We understand Rep. Brat continues to mull the possibility of a run, but that he will not comment publicly unless the need for a GOP nominee actually materializes.
Entrepreneur and former Lieutenant Governor candidate Pete Snyder is also rumored to be mulling a Senate run. Snyder did little to tamp down on speculation that he might run for Governor in 2017, and indeed seemed to welcome any attention in that regard. This has led to intense speculation among political observers that Snyder’s announcement last week that he was strongly backing gubernatorial frontrunner Ed Gillespie was a way of forming a tacit alliance for a possible Senate bid. (Contrary to the most fevered speculation, there is no “deal” between Snyder and Gillespie to back each other for their respective nominations, as such an arrangement presents little advantage (and only risk) to Gillespie. Instead, should Snyder actually be considering a run, his bear hug of Gillespie is designed to closely associate himself with Gillespie’s success, in the hopes of giving him a head start on November 9).
We’ve also heard speculation about two popular and establishment-oriented Northern Virginia pols as candidates for Senate. First is Rep. Barbara Comstock. Sources close to Comstock have indicated, repeatedly, that the 10th District Congresswoman has no intention of a 2017 or 2018 Senate run, but the speculation continues given that Comstock, like Brat, would continue in Congress, win or lose. Moreover, if Comstock secures a healthy re-election victory over her out-of-state opponent this cycle—against what is perceived to be a strong Trump headwind in her district—then such a demonstration of electoral prowess could make Comstock an attractive candidate to finally win for the Republicans statewide. Thus, even if she currently disclaims any intention of running, don’t count her out yet, as there will be a lot of well-heeled establishment types who will likely urge Comstock to throw her hat in the ring.
Finally, a rumor floating around Fairfax is that former 11th District Rep. Tom Davis has tired of private life, and is actively considering a return to electoral politics, if the opportunity were to present itself. Such a run would be intriguing, as no one has a better handle on the moderate Northern Virginia business community than Davis, who would capitalize on such ties to create a fundraising juggernaut. The idea of a Davis candidacy would roil most conservatives, though. Davis, more than any other candidate, would therefore likely welcome a crowded field in which a plurality of votes could decide the nominee.
And now, Shak Hill. Hill, a former Air Force officer, mounted a grassroots-driven insurgency campaign in 2014 against a well-funded, well-managed and determined Ed Gillespie. It was Hill’s first attempt at prominent elective office, and given the circumstances, Hill’s underfunded campaign can probably be viewed as having outperformed. (Gillespie went on to nearly upset Sen. Mark Warner, to the surprise of most, but not all, observers).
But that was in a convention setting, where Hill’s style would enjoy a natural advantage over Gillespie. In a state-run open primary, where the person with the highest vote total (not necessarily a majority) can take the nomination, it is not clear that Hill will be able to match the resources of some of the other possible candidates, which will put him at a distinct disadvantage. A lot can happen, though, between now and the June 2017 primary…no one has this wrapped up, and Hill is likely banking on a traditional conservative resurgence pulling him across the finish line in first place.
Here is the text of TBE’s exclusive interview with Hill:
TBE: How did you decide to consider a run for Senate in 2017 if Kaine’s seat should become vacant?
Shak Hill: First, I am focused on the next 35 days and working hard to elect Donald Trump. But I also think we need to be prepared for next year and the possibly of an open Senate seat. I have spoken with Ed Gillespie and he is adamant that he will not run for Senate next year under any circumstances. I am confident about running for Senate because, one, I have a strong following across the state, and two, I am the only conservative who has expressed an interest in running.
TBE: Some people think Barbara Comstock would make a strong candidate for Senate. Jimmie Massie has expressed an interest in running and some want Dave Brat to run for Senate. Also, Tom Davis is rumored to be considering a run.
Shak Hill: Barbara Comstock has said she has no interest in running and she is not a conservative. Jimmie Massie and Tom Davis aren’t either. Their voting record tells a much different story. I am the only conservative, non-establishment, candidate. Dave Brat won’t talk about running until the seat is open but he is not as well known across the state as I am. I campaigned all across the state in 2014 when I ran against Ed Gillespie for the Senate nomination. Dave Brat beat Cantor but in reality Cantor beat Cantor. Brat has never run for statewide office.
I was the co-chair for Cruz in Virginia and made appearances around the state for him, getting to know more conservatives. I also supported Carly Fiorina. I am close to Ted Cruz and will ask for his support.
TBE: One criticism of you is you would have a difficult time raising money.
Shak Hill: If we have an open Senate seat in 2017, we will have the only Senate race in the nation. Also, it could be a race that determines the balance of the Senate. This means money will pour into Virginia to support the Republican nominee. There will be no problem raising money next year.
TBE: What do you bring to the race for Senate?
Shak Hill: I graduated from the Air Force Academy and spent 9 years as an Air Force pilot, including combat missions during Desert Storm. I have run my own business and I know what it takes run a small business. I’ve had my convictions throughout my life. I am completely pro-life, and I walk the walk. When my wife was pregnant with our second child she developed a rare bone cancer and was encouraged to abort the pregnancy. We wouldn’t even consider it. Jake is now 23 years old and is proudly serving in the Army, protecting our freedoms. He is the fourth generation to do so. My wife and I have been foster parents for 46 children and adopted a sibling group of 4 children.
I am so serious about this run for office I have given up my business and my license so I can concentrate on this run for Senate. I have turned over all of my business to my wife.
TBE writers Jeanine Martin and Steve Albertson contributed to this report.
[…] previously wrote about the chance of a Senate race next year and the possible candidates here. Likely candidates for Senate are Shak Hill and Delegate Jimmie Massie (who also attended the LCRC […]
Go ahead. Make a “Shake Shak” joke. You know you want to!
This amount of “shake-up” wouldn’t even get a bottle of Coke to fizz up.
“Shake Up” must be the new TBE staff term that replaces their overwrought use of “Game Changer.”
Okay, I’ll do it…
Perhaps it’s more of a ‘Shak-up?’
Delusions are a vital part of many a political existence and you can see it often and in full force among this small and shrinking group of disgruntled Virginia social conservatives that haunt the BE. Some can claim that unfortunately their time is past but in this case I believe it more accurate to understand that the issue isn’t even about timing just plain, unadulterated, but apparently not yet fully internalized by the future candidate, complete Virginia state voter indifference. Yes, truly seismic in nature, at least within three square miles of Loudoun County.
Don’t forget the appeal of having non-consequential intercourse within the party as opposed to a fight that matters, a fight to win, against the actual opposition for the job.
Never going to get glitter-bombed at a Republican event… unless it is during an SCC meeting’s executive session (I can’t figure out what they do in general or in regular session — gotta be something with cloaks and candles.)
They generate “rules” the leadership adheres too based on political whim or convenience and more importantly by whom happens to actually be in the violation docket as well as debate endlessly the critical party election processional issue of conventions vs. primaries for the “good” of the voting base which by the way they pay not the least bit of attention too in reality. If they SCC vanished tomorrow not a single ripple would be generated in the party pond.
Yes, just when the two-year-away Senate race got boring, Shak brings it to the table. The man does not disappoint! Where to begin, where to begin?
Okay, okay, okay: Was he for Carly first and then Ted, or Ted first and then Carly? Did Shak broker the Carly for VP deal? Was Shak willing to step in for Carly if she were to fall off a podium or something?
Or better yet, does his contingency plan Senate candidacy cause any conflict of interest as he ‘focuses on the next 35 days’ (like staring at a calendar) and ‘working hard to elect Donald Trump?’
As much as I will enjoy this over the next many months, I do think the TBE is having a political ‘tearing wings off of flies’ cruel-type moment with this.
But I’m right there in the politically moral gutter with ya!
The path to the US Senate is through the Governors mansion be id Democrat or Republican. Name some former Governors who have not screwed the pooch and there are some viables.
Senator Gilmore… I like it! But I want him to take down Mark Warner.
the ultra social conservative policies can’t win statewide
Don’t think that can stop somebody from crusading.
Ok, never heard of Shak Hill same with Jimmie Massie
Sorry but Barbara Comstock is not well like in the area I live in the 10/th.
Comstock will most likely win, but only because Lu Ann is worse. If the Democratic would have put up a good person, Comstock would loss in a landslide, it wouldn’t be close.
Snyder, lots of talk no action, time to put up or go away for Snyder.
http://www.FriendsofShakHill.com to learn more.
Did you support the nominee last time you ran?
I went to every function I was invited to and spoke.at every event I was invited to speak at. Notably, nominating EG by acclamation at the convention AND a week before the election at the Charlottesville rally (with Ed and Hurt). Any other questions?
Shak gave the best and most sincere concession speech I’ve ever heard and then went on to feverishly support Ed Gillespie.
But then blew all that political capital by standing too close to the Cruzcinelli blast radius.
And of course the Frederick circus, and all the inbetween stuff, but he makes us laugh.
Its his job to get to know me, sorry.
And who are you? So that I can get to know you.
Comstock sucks for sure, but luckily the Dems don’t have much to work with in the 10th.
In a few years I expect Phyllis Randall to run for the 10th and probably win. Maybe in the meantime the Dems can get Jennifer Wexton to “move” to Leesburg and run against Comstock.
Actually, it could be anyone in the state, or apparently the district. I always thought it would be cool if Susan Allen would run against Barbara, or Kate Obenshain. Or a Republican with a … Sterling reputation.
Of course she’s not well liked, she works hard at it!
Never have I seen an incumbent repeatedly yet unsuccessfully commit political hari kari.
A potted plant could beat her yet the party AND the democrats continue to offer no or sub-potted plant opposition.
I’m not sure anyone can stop this Inspector Clousseau of Politics, yet now even Shak has aimed over her head.
Only Barbara can beat Barbara and she’s giving it her all this cycle, now more than ever.
Where’s Robert Sarvis when you need him. He’s talked about running for everything else what is wrong with the 10th district House seat. We could even start a relo collection pool for him to come on over. Even the political gadflys are abandoning us in the sinking 10th!
Only King Moonracer wants a political spoiler who can actually win. Libertarians only run if they can lose, it’s more about the theatre and tub thumping for them. Besides, Sarvis requires a patron/generous benefactor to make it worth his while. I’m thinking we should start a ‘Draft Tareq Salahi’ with a ‘Why the hell not?’ slogan — demographically the name will do well in the district and he is well-travelled in the establishment horsy set.