RICHMOND — Ed Gillespie, the Republican challenger to U.S. Sen. Mark Warner (D), released the first television ad of his campaign Wednesday night, touting his biography and vision for the country.
The strategist and former lobbyist faces an uphill battle against Warner, a governor turned senator who is ahead by double-digits in polls.
The 30-second spot takes viewers on a tour of Gillespie’s modest beginnings through his time in the White House as a counselor to President George W. Bush. But it makes no mention of his stint as chairman of the Republican National Committee or early role in creating a network of political organizations that have growing influence over elections.
Born in New Jersey, Gillespie grew up working in his parents’ grocery store and helped pay for college as a U.S. Senate parking lot attendant before ascending to the highest levels of Republican politics.
“Like many parents, Cathy and I worry Washington’s polices aren’t just killing jobs, but destroying the work ethic,” he says in the ad. “I’ll be a leader for policies that grow the middle class and expand opportunity. With the right policies, we can do better.”
Campaign spokesman Paul Logan declined to say where and for how long the aid will air.
Warner, who is seeking a second term in the Senate and made his fortune as co-founder of the company that became Nextel, first went on air in May with a similar up-by-the-bootstraps message.
“Ed Gillespie’s ad attempts to hide the fact that he has spent his entire career working as a partisan operative and a top Washington lobbyist for companies like Enron,” said Warner campaign spokesman David Turner. “If Ed Gillespie was elected to the Senate, he would contribute to the partisan gridlock, not make it better. Virginians want a problem solver, not a self-described ‘partisan warrior.”
According to July campaign finance reports, Warner has raised $14 million to Gillespie’s $4.1 million.