With the exit of two governors, Texan Rick Perry and Badger Scott Walker, the Republican Party presidential nominating contest is down to 15 combatants.
But out of what has been dubbed the “circus” with its reality show ringleader former Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore is the sober, substantive choice for voters yearning for a serious alternative. I got acquainted with Governor Gilmore during his 2008 Senate campaign where I seemed to have bumped into him at least a dozen times on the campaign trail. I was thoroughly impressed with the energy and devotion he showed through that fall, crisscrossing the state asking for votes. At the time I was doing outreach work for the state party and the McCain campaign and Gilmore was always ready and willing to lend a hand, recognizing the importance of my efforts to broaden the base of the GOP. He may have come up short back then but earned the admiration and respect of many party leaders, activists and voters.
As a result Gilmore stands as perhaps the only political figure welcomed by both ideological factions with the state GOP. He’s warmly embraced by tea partiers for his refusal to back down on his 1997 campaign promise as Governor to slash the personal property tax, a promise he kept under intense bipartisan pressure once elected. And establishment figures cast their eyes of approval upon him for his deft handling of the state during the early 2000s. He represents a uniting force that has been sorely missed in the party the past few years.
As Governor he was able to steer the aforementioned personal property tax cut, which still stands as one of the largest cuts in Virginia history, through a divided General Assembly. He showed poise in doing so, balancing each of the budgets during his tenure in Richmond through transparency and openness and not through the gimmickry each of his successors employed. That stands in sharp contrast to a President and Congress, eternally locked in partisan gridlock, unable or willing to agree on basic tax and spending legislation.
And Gilmore, in a race of fifteen, stands out for his experience, the sheer number of years he’s devoted to public service.
He’s served folks on the local level as a Commonwealth’s Attorney; eight years at the state level, first serving as Attorney General and then going on to serve as Governor; and then at the federal level as a close advisor to then President George W. Bush in the immediate aftermath of 9-11 and chairman of the Republican National Committee. Gilmore is one of the rare breed of Presidential candidates, he’d be ready on day one if elected.
A week ago I spoke with the former Governor who explained his positive vision for America, similar to the vision he had and was able to implement here in the Commonwealth. He promised to bring tax and regulatory relief to small business owners and the middle class, he promised to be ever vigilant in keeping our country safe from further attacks from without and within, but he also promised to help restore the sense of hope and optimism that seems to be missing from the American political process nowadays. Virginia’s favorite has found his place on the national stage and is taking his stand. We should all do so with him.