Politics & Policy

Seeing Purple

Ed Gillespie runs to keep Virginia red.

Virginia Republicans have lost the last two races for governor and endured Senator George Allen’s failed reelection bid this year but their fortunes are about to change. Former Republican National Committee chairman Ed Gillespie is running for chairman of the Virginia Republican party. It is rare for such a talented wholesaler to decide to go into the retail side of politics but Gillespie, a native of New Jersey, has an all too rare commitment to his adopted state and is determined to do everything in his power to put its future back in Republican hands.

#ad#Gillespie believes that too many fellow transplanted northern Virginians are detached from the state’s politics and policies despite the fact that “this is where they’re raising their children.” His own three are native Virginians. He wants newcomers “to stop thinking about where they’re from and start thinking about where they live,” in the hope that they will be more inclined to engage in the local politics that so directly influence their quality of life.

The uber-strategist and successful lobbyist also wants the Republican party to get more credit for the plentiful jobs, strong economy, and good schools that prompt newcomers to stay put.

Virginia voters backed Bush in both 2000 and 2004, but Gillespie fears that the state is at risk of joining the toss-up column in national races if the local GOP fails to rebuild its infrastructure, recruit quality candidates, and engage a larger cadre of volunteers. He rejects the popular-with-pundits notion that the state is divided between NOVA (northern Virginia) and ROVA (the rest of Virginia). He sees Virginia’s mix of cities, suburbs, and rural areas with new economy high-tech businesses thriving alongside older models representative of the nation as a whole. “Virginia can be a model for the Republican party — a laboratory to test new ideas,” Gillespie explains.

Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling has urged the party’s central committee to elect Ed Gillespie at its meeting this Saturday, highlighting his stature, skills, and conservative views.

There is some speculation that some day Gillespie might decide to run for office in the Old Dominion. Meanwhile, should he be tapped to devote his formidable talents to Virginia’s GOP, there’s a good chance the party would be back in the red.

– Kate O’Beirne is the author of Women Who Make the World Worse: and How Their Radical Feminist Assault Is Ruining Our Schools, Families, Military, and Sports, now in paperback.

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