Ed Gillespie: Former RNC chairman to challenge Democratic Sen. Mark Warner in Virginia.

Former RNC Chairman to Run For Senate in Virginia

Former RNC Chairman to Run For Senate in Virginia

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Jan. 16 2014 11:08 AM

Former RNC Chairman to Run For Senate in Virginia

Ed Gillespie hopes to unseat Democratic Sen. Mark Warner in Virginia

Photo by Matthew Cavanaugh/Getty Images

Ed Gillespie, the former chairman of the Republican National Committee who served as an adviser to President George W. Bush and Mitt Romney, plans to announce today that he'll challenge Democratic Sen. Mark Warner in November. Warner, a former governor, is generally quite popular in the state, so Gillespie faces an uphill challenge. Still, one of his adviser's who leaked the news to Politico maintains that Gillespie believes the race is (shocker) "winnable" because (shocker again) Obamacare:

Gillespie thinks the key to taking out Warner, a moderate who was a popular governor, will be highlighting support for Obamacare, the stimulus package and other votes with President Barack Obama “since they were elected together in ’08,” as the adviser put it. Obama carried the Commonwealth in 2008 and 2012, but his popularity has slipped and the off-year electorate will be more favorable to the GOP.

But before Gillespie can unleash his Obama-themed attacks on Warner he'll first have to secure the Republican nomination. As a GOP insider, he enters the race as a solid contender against two other lesser-known Republicans. But, as the Washington Post points out, a handful of conservative activists are working behind the scenes to find a more high-profile candidate who can challenge Gillespie from the right at a convention. (Virginia Republicans pick their candidates at a convention, not with a primary.)

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Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City.