Frank Atkinson wrote Virginia in the Vanguard with more than a passing reference to anticipated presidential candidacies by Virginians. I think that at this time last year everyone expected there would be a Virginian running for president in 2008. I don’t reckon many thought it would be Jim Gilmore.
For those tuning in late, James S. Gilmore III is a past two term Commonwealth’s Attorney of Henrico County, Attorney General of Virginia, Governor of Virginia, Chairman of the Republican National Committee, and chairman of the Gilmore Commission on Terrorism…and now he wants the Republican nomination for President in 2008.
The question to consider is whether Gilmore is the Prince of the Poseur? Is he a legitimate candidate for the nomination or is he some political hack who cannot resist a chance to get back in the game?
At first I scoffed at the Gilmore idea. But upon reflection, I think the Gilmore candidacy is a crossroads moment for the Republican Party. How his candidacy works, and if it works, will address important questions facing the GOP and the nominating process for both parties.
That Gilmore is legitimately in the game at all is the result of some luck. VP Dick Cheney would normally be the heir presumptive, but Cheney is not running in 2008 and first said so about 3 seconds after he was sworn into office in 2001. The absence of a clear front runner opens up the field to about anyone who meets the constitutional requirements. Gilmore does more than that, and offers an interesting combination of assets and liabilities.
Determination in all things
Beyond the resume items, Gilmore is driven and ruthless in pursuit of any goal. He is a blue collar guy who has regularly had to fight the uphill struggle to get where he wants to go-and has made the fight with energy and vigor.
This quality is seen in how he got into law school. As the story is told in the WaPo, Gilmore was accepted at TC Williams at the University of Richmond but wait listed at his first choice, UVa. He enrolled at TCW, began classes, then went up to Charlottesville just the day prior to or the day of classes starting. He sat in the dean’s office all that day in case a spot opened in the incoming class. A spot did come through from someone who chose to go elsewhere. Gilmore was there and ready to go-even though he was not necessarily the next on the wait list-and got the spot. He dropped from TCW, enrolled at and ultimately received his JD from UVa. The man is persistence personified.
The same persistence is seen in his candidacy for AG. When he announced in 1993, there was some scoffing in certain quarters. The idea of a local constitutional office holder running for statewide office without time in the General Assembly was not the norm, especially when the opposition was a veteran member of the House of Delegates. Nonetheless Gilmore won the nomination and went on to victory in November.
The rest is at the site. I recommend it.