- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 15, 2014

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Republican Ed Gillespie’s campaign announced Tuesday that it had raised $2.2 million in its bid to unseat U.S. Sen. Mark Warner, a sizable haul for a non-incumbent.

Gillespie’s campaign says 60 percent of its donors are Virginians and 15 donors had previously given to Warner, a Democrat. A Gillespie spokesman says the campaign launched in January but did not hold a fundraiser until Feb. 19.

Campaign manager Chris Leavitt says the totals reflect enthusiasm for Gillespie’s pro-jobs message.

“Over the last five years, Virginians have seen a stagnant economy with work hours cut, too few jobs, higher energy prices, skyrocketing health care premiums and policy after policy from Mark Warner and President Obama that makes the problem worse,” Leavitt said in a statement. “Virginians know that Ed will be effective on day one to take us in a better direction.”

Warner, a former governor who is seeking a second term in the U.S. Senate, announced earlier this month that his campaign raised $2.7 million during the last quarter and had $8.8 million saved for the upcoming campaign.

A Quinnipiac University poll released last month showed Warner leading Gillespie by 15 points.

A former chairman of both the Republican National Committee and the Virginia Republican Party, Gillespie is considered the front runner to be his party’s nominee. The GOP will choose a candidate at a June 7 convention in Roanoke.

Gillespie is a former adviser to President George W. Bush and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, and is a familiar face to wealthy Republican donors. In March, Romney headlined a New York fundraiser for Gillespie partly held at the home of Wall Street tycoon Stephen A. Schwarzman, the CEO and founder of the private equity firm Blackstone.

The Gillespie campaign also released this week a list of 15 former clients of Gillespie’s now shuttered communication consulting firm. They include several blue chip companies such as AT&T;, Bank of America, Facebook and Microsoft, as well as trade associations such as America’s Natural Gas Alliance and the American Petroleum Institute. Gillespie had represented many of the same companies and associations when he was registered lobbyist several years ago. As a communications adviser, he was not required to disclose his clients.

Challenging Gillespie to be the Republican senate candidate are Tony DeTora, a congressional staffer; Shak Hill, an insurance salesman; and Chuck Moss, owner of at a network consulting business.

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