- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 25, 2007

Virginia Rep. Tom Davis today announced he will not run for retiring Sen. John Warner’s seat, saying Virginia Republicans made a mistake when they opted to select their nominee through a convention, rather than a primary.

“This is just probably not the right time for me to make any advance and run for the Senate,” the Fairfax County Republican said.

“I don’t think our party understands what a difficult undertaking it is and how the demographics of the state and the issue matrix has changed markedly over the last decade.”

The decision leaves former Republican Gov. James S. Gilmore III, who is expected to make an official announcement later this year, as the frontrunner.

Mr. Gilmore has the support of the party’s conservative base, but he remains a question mark for moderate minded Republicans, including Mr. Davis, who worries about his ability to woo voters in Northern Virginia — a region that George Allen lost by 120,000 votes in his failed re-election bid last year.

Whoever wins the Republican nomination will face an uphill battle against popular former Gov. Mark R. Warner, a Democrat.

“Mark is a very affable guy and he’s got a lot of money and he has an organization around the state,” Mr. Davis said today.

“Right now Republicans gets more excited about beating other Republicans than they do about beating Democrats and I don’t think that is a formula for victory.”

Mr. Davis‘ announcement came a less than two weeks after Virginia’s Republican State Central Committee voted to hold a convention to pick the party’s nominee to replace Sen. John W. Warner next year.

The 47-37 vote was widely considered a victory for Mr. Gilmore.

“I think the convention gives the party the best opportunity to name a candidate, not burn up all of its resources. And I think that makes it more likely a party that can win the election,” Mr. Gilmore said at the time.

He also said the convention will push the candidate to secure the party’s conservative base and then reach “into the center.”

When Mr. Davis was asked whether he would run again for the House of Representatives, he said “we will talk about that another day.”

“I’ve got to milk that one a bit,” he joked. Then he added, “The rumors of my demise are greatly exaggerated.”