Jim Gilmore Drops Presidential Bid

Jim Gilmore is ending his presidential run six months before the first primary, citing his inability to raise funds and blaming a late entry into the race. This gives him the distinction, according to Yahoo! News‘ headline writer at least, of being the “first major candidate to drop out.”

Former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore ended his long-shot campaign for presidency on Saturday, acknowledging he couldn’t raise enough money. The former Republican National Committee chairman is the first of the 10 GOP presidential candidates to drop out. He barely registered in the polls, and his latest financial disclosure report showed him with about $90,000 in cash on hand.

A former Army intelligence officer and state prosecutor, Gilmore had stumped on reducing illegal immigration and creating a new strategy in Iraq. “I’ve developed a national following,” Gilmore said in a telephone interview. “But that following really hasn’t included getting a fundraising group together.”

In a written statement, the 57-year-old meat-cutter’s son said his late start, near the end of April, and the front-loaded primary schedule “have made it impractical to continue.” Gilmore also underwent emergency surgery for a detached retina last month, which forced him to cancel at least a week’s worth of campaign appearances. “I’ve had a chance to appear with the other candidates, and I think I’ve stood toe-to-toe with them,” he said in the interview. But “the reality is we’re raising money in the hundreds of thousands, and the front runners are raising in the millions.” One GOP frontrunner, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani reported $18.3 million on hand Friday.

“I have come to believe that it takes more than a positive vision for our nation’s future to successfully compete for the presidency,” Gilmore’s statement said. “I believe that it takes years of preparation to put in place both the political and financial infrastructure to contest what now amounts to a one-day national primary in February.”

Well, yeah. I’ve known that for years, as have most of you. It’s baffling that a former national party chairman wouldn’t have clued in to that at some point.

The Virginia Pilot reports that Gilmore “is eyeing his own comeback in state politics, possibly as a candidate for the U.S. Senate in 2008 should incumbent John Warner, a Republican, not seek re-election; or he might run for governor in 2009.”

Gilmore was governor before I moved back to Virginia and I don’t have any real sense of his popularity in the state. His legacy is not very impressive, if the Pilot‘s summary is any indication:

Gilmore was governor from 1998 to 2002. He won the governorship largely on a pledge to end Virginia’s car tax, which he said would cost about $620 million a year. The actual cost, however, was more than $1.4 billion, and legislators strained to come up with the cash when the state’s economy began sagging in 2001. Democrat Mark Warner, who succeeded Gilmore, criticized Gilmore’s financial stewardship. The General Assembly eventually capped car tax relief at $950 annually, eliminating about 70 percent of the levy for most automobile owners.

And the state’s most ubiquitous pundit offers this observation:

Larry Sabato, a University of Virginia political scientist, said Gilmore’s withdrawal will hardly be noticed. “He had no impact at all, to be blunt about it,” Sabato said. “I never saw him above 2 percent in the polls. He was usually at 1 percent, and sometimes he was just a dash, meaning he registered no support at all.”

Unkind but, alas, true.

In recent years, Gilmore has practiced law in Washington and has been a frequent television commentator on conservative issues.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Tano says:

    If I recall correctly, he was also a flop as GOP chairman, wasn’t he? Eased out after only one year? Maybe some Repubs can refresh our memory here.