Marshall to Challenge Gilmore For Republican Nomination

Del. Robert G. Marshall (R-Prince William), with his wife, Cathy, and son Tommy, announces his U.S. Senate bid.
Del. Robert G. Marshall (R-Prince William), with his wife, Cathy, and son Tommy, announces his U.S. Senate bid. (By Steve Helber -- Associated Press)
By Tim Craig
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, January 8, 2008

RICHMOND, Jan. 7 -- Del. Robert G. Marshall of Prince William County announced his candidacy for U.S. Senate on Monday, setting up a GOP nomination fight for the seat held by Sen. John W. Warner, who is retiring.

Marshall, known for his conservative views on social issues and taxes, will battle former Virginia governor James S. Gilmore III for the nomination. GOP activists will meet in late May or early June to select their nominee to run against former governor Mark R. Warner, who so far is the only announced Democratic candidate.

At a news conference at the state Capitol, Marshall said he wants to restore respect for traditional marriage, close the federal deficit, end the U.S. occupation of Iraq and keep taxes low.

But Marshall said his fervent opposition to abortion is the main reason he decided to take on Gilmore, who supports the right to have an abortion during the first eight weeks of pregnancy.

"I am the only candidate in this race that will protect, and have a record of protecting, the right to life for unborn children," said Marshall, who was joined by his wife, Cathy, and two of his sons.

Ana Gamonal, Gilmore's communications director, brushed off Marshall's candidacy, saying the former governor remains focused on a general election matchup with Warner.

"We do anticipate that governor Gilmore will be the party nominee," Gamonal said. "Our focus here at headquarters is defeating Mark Warner."

Marshall, who has never run for statewide office, concedes he has an uphill fight to defeat the better-known and better-financed Gilmore.

But several Republicans warned that Marshall, 53, should not be underestimated, because social conservatives are a major force in the Virginia Republican Party.

Marshall, who home-schooled his five children, says he will be able to tap into a statewide network of parents who also home-schooled their children.

In addition, Marshall could benefit from lingering doubts among many GOP leaders about whether Gilmore is the party's strongest candidate against Warner.

In his speech announcing his candidacy, Marshall said GOP activists asked him to run "because they want someone who will represent their views and values" and a candidate who "will stand on principle."

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