Then Ed Gillespie announced that he was willing to run. Far from a dark horse or unknown candidate, Gillespie brought the promise of national attention to his campaign, and instantly made it a guarantee that fundraising would not be a problem. After all, he helped found Crossroads GPS with Karl Rove, served as Chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia, Chairman of the Republican National Committee, and former Counselor to President Bush. Finally, Republicans in Virginia had a candidate that stacked up well against Senator Warner, and one that promised to at least make this an even fight.
However, early polls seemed to indicate that Gillespie's benefits weren't as great as they seemed. His name recognition across the state paled to Warner, who had a 30-point lead over Gillespie, according to the Roanoke Times. Republican interest, which had spiked upon Gillespie's announcement, seemed doomed again.
Then, a pair of miracles happened.
First, a Harper poll indicated that, far from the 30-point margin that pundits were talking about, Warner was only ahead by 6%, 44%-38%. In a generic ballot, Republicans were ahead 46%-42%! To push the good news even further, Warner had dipped below the 50% approval rating that is normally a minimum needed for an incumbent to win re-election. With 7 months to go before voters went to the polls, we had a race.
Then, Warner started making what can only be described as a series of politically questionable moves. Jumping into a celebrity-gossip story normally reserved for teenagers, Senator Warner pushed for the deportation of Justin Bieber. Not quite the image you want when running for office, is it? But wait, there's more...he also, on his public Twitter, stated that he thought Republicans would blame the colder winter on Obamacare. Not only does this not make sense, but it only makes it easier to turn the subject to Obamacare-a law which is disapproved by 52% of voters in that same Harper poll.
Now, I'm not saying that this race is over-after all, there are still 4 candidates for the Republican nomination, to be decided on June 7. But this race is no longer a "Safe Democrat" or "Leaning Democrat" race. With 7 months to go, Virginians have a Toss-Up on our hands.