The withdrawal of Senator Mark Obenshain (R-Harrisonburg) from Virginia’s 2017 governor’s race leaves conventional wisdom and the usual suspects to opine that Ed Gillespie is the lock to win the ’17 GOP gubernatorial nomination.
They’re all wrong. Again.
Although Gillespie will enjoy the support of the “establishment” wing of the Virginia GOP (if there is such a thing) and have Obenshain’s blessing, winning a nominating convention will be a tall order for the K-Street darling and serial lobbyist.
Gillespie barely beat back a woefully underfunded convention challenge for U.S. Senate in Roanoke in 2014 by Shak Hill — who raised a little over $20,000 and ran what amounted to a Mail-Chimp campaign.
Gillespie’s narrow loss to Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) buttresses his narrative for sure. But he failed to win in a watershed GOP national landslide year of sweeping proportions.
Other candidates who will run — and be convention factors — include U.S. Rep. Rob Wittman (R-VA/1) and State Sen. Frank Wagner (R-Virginia Beach) — assuming Wagner wins re-election over Democrat challenger Gary McCollum.
Here’s the wild card: Virginia businessman and entrepreneur Pete Snyder.
Democratic insiders call him the “most dangerous Republican in Virginia.” And for good reason. He’s from Northern Virginia. He’s a businessman. He’s a political outsider. He’s not bought and paid for. He’s a solid economic conservative. And he’s tough as nails.
He ran a top-notch convention race for LG in 2013 and came from nowhere to finish second. He’s done yeoman’s work in the financial trenches for the RPV and has helped unit chairs at the grassroots level.
Snyder will run for governor.
He’ll defeat Gillespie in a convention showdown.