What follows is just my objective $.02 on a matter of not so impending public concern.
The Mason Conservative recently posted at his joint and at the New Sic Semper Tyrannis about a Jim Gilmore for Senate candidacy. TMC notes Gilmore’s perseverance, his tenacity, his ability to win when others count him out:
Republicans don’t seem to want him and Democrats relish the chance to bemoan him. And yet here he is, like a bloody DeNiro in Raging Bull yelling at Ray Robinson “You never knocked me down” over and over. He continues to survive, and perhaps even thrive under these circumstances. Jim Gilmore’s chances of a comeback are always put down, but here he is.
Ultimately, he reminds us:
Jim Gilmore is tough enough to withstand a lot, and has proven over and over that he is a survivor. Don’t take him lightly.
I agree. In fact, I offered a post similar to this when Gilmore announced his now discontinued presidential candidacy. At that time (January 2007) I wrote:
Jim Gilmore is a man who has never lost [a statewide] election. He knows how to build an organization, he is unwilling to concede defeat, and will not back away from a fight. Men with lesser abilities have won presidential nominations. He has yet to be The Prince, but he is certainly not a Poseur.
Ignore or belittle him and his candidacy at your peril.
I still stand by that-but it is due to that very nature of the man that I sincerely hope he does not receive the 2008 GOP Senate nomination. This is not about the electoral terrain, ideological purity, past records or political baggage. It is due to my take on the man himself.
Run for Governor in 2009? OK. Senate 2008? Not a chance. I would vote for him over Mark Warner, but only because Mark Warner has shown himself to be a political chameloen who is not to be trusted and who will raise taxes as a first resort. Jim Gilmore is not a chameleon-he sets his course, flies his colors, and follows his chosen path whether it leads him onto the reef or into safe harbor.
However, it is those traits that I think will make him a very poor US Senator.
I have said before that I think some people by their nature function better in the executive branch than in the legislative branch. I suggest that Jim Gilmore is such a person. He has a strong sense of what needs to be done, and does it. Sometimes to his credit, sometimes not.
Example-Gilmore seized on and expertly used ending the car tax as a killing issue in the 1997 gubernatorial election. It was reduced 70% quickly in his administration, and there were agreements to push for the balance when certain economic and budget forecasts were met. All well and good…then Gilmore decided the other 30% had to be had before he left office. In doing so he broke agreements with legislative leaders, and ignored that the state was in the midst of a more than middling economic downturn as the dot-com bubble burst. He had to have his additional 30%, when prudence suggested focusing on other issues. Gilmore did not get his completed cut, and sowed bad blood in the budgeting process that is still there today.
An elected or appointed executive is fully empowered ay to push his/her agenda and put it into affect. That kind of description fits Jim Gillmore to a tee. But a legislator has to be patient, working with others to craft legislation. A legislator has to be able to get along. To a great degree, they have to be able to play well with others. I have not seen where this can be said of Jim Gilmore. His public service has been one of executive positions…Commonwealth’s Attorney, Attorney General, Governor, Chairman of the RNC. His never say die personality is indicative of someone who neither wants nor needs others approval, and suggests his true strengths are found when he is in a position where he can forge ahead and make things happen.
I don’t think Gilmore has the patience or temperment to be an effective Senator, no matter how much one might like him on the issues. If he wants to reenter public life, let it be as a candidate for Governor in 2009, not for the Senate in 2008. I don’t pretend to know his chances in either race, but I think the man will be more comfortable, and the Commonwealth served better, if he is in Richmond than if he is in Washington.