- The Washington Times - Friday, December 22, 2000

RICHMOND Virginia Gov. James S. Gilmore III thinks he can be both governor and Republican National Committee chairman if President-elect George W. Bush offers him the position.
"If properly structured, I believe that it could be [done]," Mr. Gilmore said. "But again, the decision on that or anything else, is up to the president-elect. Meanwhile, I am governor of Virginia, and it may be that the timing of this governor's office just does not permit me to participate in national affairs. We'll see what the president-elect says."
Mr. Bush has not announced Mr. Gilmore as his choice, but Republican sources have confirmed that the Virginia governor is the president-elect's man for the job.
State Democrats said they also believe Mr. Gilmore can do both jobs but only because he's already spending more time on the national stage than on Virginia issues.
"The governor hasn't been spending a lot of time in the commonwealth recently. He'd been working on the Bush campaign and working [out] on the country," said Emily Couric, the incoming chairman of the Virginia Democratic Party. "I think it'll be more of the same, and he has a staff that's been picking up for him."
"I think it's a very high honor, and I think it's nice that he got it. The only thing I wonder about, I'm a little curious he wasn't even considered for a full-time job in the Cabinet," she said.
But Ed Matricardi, executive director of the Republican Party of Virginia, disagreed.
"Governor Gilmore could have had any Cabinet position out there … but the governor decided that he didn't want to leave the governor's mansion early, and that he had a contract with Virginia. So the man is so conscientious that he turned down another plum position, do you think he'd take one that interfered with his work as governor?" he said.
If he is offered the slot and takes it, Mr. Gilmore would succeed current Chairman Jim Nicholson, who has served two two-year terms.
The RNC chairman helps to develop campaign strategy and is a national spokesman for the party and a fund-raiser.
Given Mr. Gilmore's record in Virginia, many say he is a natural for the job. He is known as an outstanding fund-raiser, and has achieved his objective in every race he has run from leading a sweep of the three top state offices in 1997, to winning control of the state General Assembly in 1999, to delivering Virginia for Mr. Bush in the Republican primaries and in the general election.
"I can't think of a better person for the job. Think about the things he's done for the party here in Virginia it would be great for him to do the same things nationwide," Mr. Matricardi said.
Mr. Gilmore clearly didn't want to jump the gun on any official announcement by Mr. Bush, and yesterday deflected direct questions about an appointment, even after news organizations already reported it would happen.
"I did tell the president-elect that if he would like me to serve the party or the nation in any way that I would be happy to do that, it just had to be something that was consistent with the governorship," Mr. Gilmore said.

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