Ed Gillespie, whose grandfather and father immigrated from Ireland, has a resume long enough to exhaust a voice coach who tries to read it aloud.
He spent a decade on Capitol Hill as an aide to House Majority Leader Dick Armey and a stint as White House counselor. In December 2006, Virginians elected Mr. Gillespie chairman of their state GOP. With Karl Rove, Mr. Gillespie would go on to support the creation of and informally advise the fundraising powerhouse American Crossroads.
In 2010, he took over the Republican State Leadership Committee, which helped Republicans dominate 30 state legislatures and statewide elected offices.
“But wait; there’s more,” his biographer might say. Eddie G, as friends call him, chaired Bob McDonnell’s gubernatorial campaign, the 2002 Senate campaign of Elizabeth Dole and the presidential campaign of Mitt Romney. The only commonality among the Republicans he worked for was party affiliation.
“Having all these jobs on Capitol Hill and working in the White House, you do learn a lot about federal policy, and that’s an advantage to me as a candidate,” he said.
He is outwardly comfortable that he has enough on-the-job experience to overtake a Democratic incumbent who was once governor of Virginia and a wealthy businessman who was one of the early investors in Nextel.
In the spare time, this grandson of an Irish-immigrant janitor and son of parents who never got a college education co-founded the prosperous Quinn Gillespie & Associates lobbying-public relations firm, all the while remaining a close and loyal protege to former Mississippi Gov. and two-term RNC Chairman Haley Barbour. Mr. Gillespie began his political odyssey smiling and dialing for donor dollars a block south of the U.S. Capitol, in the boiler-room basement of the Republican National Committee — well before Mr. Barbour’s ascendency or Mr. Bush’s presidency.
• Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly described the affiliation of former Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie to American Crossroads. Mr. Gillespie never worked for the group.