Former Republican National Committee chairman and presidential adviser Ed Gillespie let on this week that an announcement should be expected soon that he is entering the Senate race in Virginia. That would continue expanding the Senate map for the GOP, which Chuck Todd now thinks may well flip the majority from Democratic to Republican:

(The GOP is also helped by an emerging scandal involving Democratic Sen. Mark Udall (Col.), who has been caught leaning on state officials on Obamacare numbers. Surely all those liberals concerned about “bullying” will be calling for his resignation, no?)

In this photo taken June 1, 2012, Romney Campaign Senior Adviser Ed Gillespie poses for a photo at Romney Campaign headquarters in Boston. The Obama campaign is questioning whether Romney was at the helm of private equity firm Bain Capital when it sent jobs overseas, allegations that Ed Gillespie poses for a photo at Romney Campaign headquarters in Boston in 2012. (Josh Reynolds/Associated Press)

Gillespie could bring more than money and name recognition to the race. He is also a solid voice in favor of immigration reform with border security and on tough national security. As to the latter, Peter Baker’s book Days of Fire on President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney paints Gillespie as tough-minded and possessing sound judgment. He knew when it was time for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to go. He resisted the time table in Iraq and favored mentioning a specific human rights figure in a Bush speech in Egypt. He also resisted (wisely in retrospect) the media suggestion that Bush should apologize for the execution of the war in Iraq, which surely would have set off a feeding frenzy and undermined chances for the surge.

In speaking with an array of Republicans (some more conservative than others) who know him and/or have worked with him (as opposed to right-wing pundits who think he will push “amnesty” and is squishy on other issues, as they consider his former boss to have been), I heard uniformly favorable reviews. Maybe that is simply politeness or excitement about the prospects of a viable Senate candidate in Virginia, but he seems to have earned an unusual degree of respect from people on different parts of the conservative spectrum. He’ll need to do that this year if he is going avoid a bloody primary and successfully run against a popular incumbent.