As expected, former Republican National Committee chairman Ed Gillespie announced he was running for Senate today:

In tone and substance it is as sophisticated an announcement video as you will find, which is unsurprising given his experience in politics. He touches base with conservatives in talking about restoration of “Constitutional principles,” and echoes the themes of current conservative reformers. (“I’ll be a servant of the people of Virginia. And a leader for policies that grow the middle class and foster upward mobility, enabling people to lift themselves out of poverty. Policies that will make life better for working families and those who want to work but can’t now find a job.”) And to be sure he’ll tie Obamacare around Sen. Mark Warner’s neck, promising voters he will get rid of  Obamacare “which kills jobs and costs families the insurance and doctors they like. Senator Mark Warner cast the deciding vote for it. If I were a Virginia Senator, it would not be law today.”

Senior adviser Ed Gillespie briefs reporters as they accompany Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney to Weyers Cave-Shenandoah Valley Airport in Weyers Cave, Va., Thursday, Oct. 4, 2012. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
Ed Gillespie. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

Brad Dayspring from the Republican National Senate Committee emails, continuing the anti-Warner message. “Mark Warner  tells folks in Virginia that he’s an independent voice, but he has voted with Barack Obama 97% of the time.  Mark Warner promised that Virginians could keep their health insurance and their doctors if they liked to justify his deciding vote for ObamaCare. ” He adds, “Mark Warner claims to be concerned about the national debt, but since he’s been in the Senate every household in Virginia has seen their share of it rise by $52,000.  Even a cursory look at Mark Warner’s record reveals that he can’t be trusted to tell the truth and that reality is going to sink him.”

As a known figure in the state, Gillespie will help excite and reunite the party activists. Tucker Martin, who was former Gov. Bob McDonnell’s communications director and close advisor (and worked on the victorious gubernatorial campaign put it simply, “Right candidate at right moment. This is what the Republican Party in Virginia needed. Now it’s a race.”

Gillespie also, as will other GOP candidates, is helping — win or lose — to paint a portrait of a different GOP than the one that shut down the government. His rhetoric is softer, his policies more focused on promoting opportunity. He’s certainly not going to stray into the wilderness where Todd Akin and other hot heads led the party.

The chances for a GOP takeover of the Senate improve with the announcement of each viable, appealing GOP challenger. The race in 2014 is not only about the Senate and House majorities. It is about setting the table for the 2016 presidential race. Is this the party of the shutdown squad cheerleaders like the Senate Conservatives Fund running radical candidates and against solid incumbents? Or is this the party of Gillespie, Rep. Paul Ryan, Rep. Eric Cantor, and others trying to focus on an agenda that presents policies attractive to the broad array of voters? In short, Republicans will determine in 2014 whether they are a party that wants to win and govern effectively. Gillespie helps on both scores.

Jennifer Rubin writes the Right Turn blog for The Post, offering reported opinion from a conservative perspective.