- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 1, 2004

NEW YORK — Virginia Attorney General Jerry W. Kilgore has basked in the spotlight all week as he prepares for his 2005 run for governor, but the state’s former chief executive is taking away some of the attention.

James S. Gilmore III this week has said that he won’t rule out running for office in the future, including the governorship he once held.

“I will probably be a candidate again sometime,” Mr. Gilmore told The Washington Times on the Republican National Convention floor Tuesday night. “I don’t know when or where.”

There’s chatter among delegates, wondering why Mr. Gilmore hasn’t yet endorsed Mr. Kilgore’s candidacy. Many Republicans say that the state needs a new leader and that it is Mr. Kilgore’s turn.

Speculation is that Mr. Gilmore may run for U.S. Senate in 2008 when Virginia Republican John W. Warner is expected to retire.

Tucker Watkins, a delegate from Randolph, Va., said “absolutely” Mr. Gilmore should offer the endorsement to squash rumors of another run for governor.

“There is no question what Jerry Kilgore is going to be in two years,” Mr. Watkins said. “Jim Gilmore is a leader of the party and always has been. Jerry Kilgore is the leader.”

Mr. Gilmore said that he is focused on re-electing President Bush and that he won’t consider endorsements for the 2005 race until next year.

Mr. Kilgore, 43, who sat in Mr. Bush’s box on Tuesday night with the first lady, said that he expects to secure Mr. Gilmore’s endorsement.

“I fully expect the former governor will support me and move forward,” he said. “I’m sure he’s interested in something for the future, and we’ll see what it is.”

When asked if he will face off with Mr. Gilmore in a Republican primary for governor next year, Mr. Kilgore laughed, said “No,” and added: “This party is unified behind me, and we’re moving on.”

Under Virginia law, governors cannot be elected in back-to-back terms. Mr. Kilgore is expected to be challenged by Lt. Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, a Democrat, in the general election next year. Mr. Kaine was boosted among Democrats as the certain nominee during the Democratic National Convention in Boston, where he met with governors of other states and spent time with delegates.

Mr. Kaine joked at the Gilmore rumors, which have been circulating in Richmond as well, and then got more serious. “Hey, I’ll take ‘em both on — their names rhyme, and I don’t see them as that different,” he said yesterday.

“But seriously, the party will pick the person who best represents who the party is today, and I will be glad to campaign against either of them.”

Mr. Gilmore has attended nearly all of the Virginia events in New York, and has been recognized and applauded at each. At the delegation breakfast yesterday at the Helmsley Park Lane Hotel, Mr. Gilmore and Mr. Kilgore chatted briefly, exchanging friendly conversation and patting each other on the back.

During the breakfast, Mr. Kilgore was elevated by chants of “four more years.”

Republican Party of Virginia Chairman Kate Obenshain Griffin called Mr. Kilgore a “courageous leader” and said that he would be the state’s “next great Republican governor.”

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