Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore faces a difficult political task this year, running as a red-state conservative in Virginia - a “purple” state that is turning increasingly blue. The Democratic nominee, former Gov. Mark Warner, is heavily favored to win the Senate seat being vacated by retiring Republican John Warner, who has held it for 30 years. But Mr. Gilmore would be the superior choice.

Despite his reputation as a moderate, Mr. Warner is in reality a liberal Democrat. It would be difficult to imagine a more stark philosophical contrast with Mr. Gilmore, a staunch conservative.

For example, Mr. Gilmore is strongly opposed to the $700 billion mortgage-bailout bill passed by Congress earlier this month; Mr. Warner supported it.

Mr. Gilmore favors making permanent the federal tax cuts enacted by Congress in 2001 and 2003. Mr. Warner, by contrast, has suggested repealing tax cuts on persons whose family income exceeds $250,000 a year.

On Iraq, Mr. Gilmore opposes deadlines for withdrawing troops from Iraq. Mr. Warner suggested earlier this year that troops should begin coming home in January.

Mr. Gilmore favors offshore oil drilling in Alaska and off the Atlantic Coast. Mr. Warner opposes drilling in Alaska and says more study is needed before drilling is permitted off the Atlantic Coast. Mr. Gilmore opposes and Mr. Warner favors the Orwellian-titled Employee Free Choice Act, which would make it much easier for labor unions to coerce workers into joining.

As governor, Mr. Gilmore is best known for his work to repeal the oppressive car tax. Mr. Warner’s major political achievement as governor was his success in pushing a $1.4 billion tax increase through the General Assembly in 2004. Only weeks after passage of the tax increase (which Mr. Warner asserted was essential to balance the budget), state officials acknowledged that Virginia was actually running a budget surplus. (In other words, Mr. Warner’s dire warnings of imminent fiscal collapse had been proven false.)

In the final days, aides to Mr. Gilmore plan to make Mr. Warner’s integrity and honesty a central feature of the Republican campaign. In 1994, Mr. Warner, then Virginia Democratic Party chairman, said that the Christian Coalition, “right to lifers,” home-schoolers and the National Rifle Association were attempting to “take over” the Republican Party of Virginia and the government. In the same speech to the National Jewish Democratic Council, he claimed that the four groups posed a threat to “what it means to be an American.” During his successful 2001 gubernatorial race, Mr. Warner denied making the comments. But Mr. Gilmore’s campaign recently found an audio recording of the speech. Confronted with his own words, Mr. Warner now disavows them.

Jim Gilmore is by contrast a conservative and a man of integrity. The Washington Times endorses Jim Gilmore for Senate.

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