RICHMOND, VA. (WTVR) — On the eve of the “Shad Plank,” an annual Virginia political tradition featuring candidates involved with the upcoming election, both Senator Mark Warner and front runner for the Republican Nomination Ed Gillespie spoke with CBS 6.
Gillespie is running against Anthony “Tony” DeTora of Fredericksburg, Wayshak “Shak” Hill of Centreville and Charles “Chuck” Moses of Nokesville. The nomination will be decided at the Republican Party of Virginia’s annual convention in Roanoke in June.
Based on first quarter filings, Gillespie solidified his status as frontrunner – reporting $2.2 million dollars in donations, the highest for any non-incumbent Republican Senatorial Candidate nationwide.
“We have a lot strong support across the Commonwealth,” Gillespie told CBS 6 political reporter Joe St. George.
“We are proud to have 15 donors who were previous donors to Senator Warner – I think this shows people recognize the Senator’s record is not what people expected,” Gillespie said.
Warner, speaking at a retail event in Richmond, seemed to dismiss Gillespie’s numbers by referencing he raised more.
Warner announced he raised $2.7 million a few weeks ago.
“I think the numbers speak for themselves – we raised more than Mr. Gillespie last quarter, we had seven times more donors, I think Virginians know my record and if he ends up being the nominee I am looking forward to a spirited debate,” Warner said.
Asked by St. George if he is not conservative enough for a convention, Gillespie says he is looking forward to “bringing the Republican party together.”
"I am working hard on getting my delegates to Roanoke," Gillespie said.
Gillespie hinted that this election will be more than just about him if he's the nominee, it will be about winning control of the entire US Senate.
"If we win here in November we will get control of the United States Senate for the last two years of the Obama presidency."
As for commenting on Gillespie further, Warner said he would reserve that until Republicans officially decide their nominee.
CBS 6 asked Gillespie if the endorsement of former Virginia Republican Senator John Warner hurt his campaign.
"I respect his right to support whoever he wants in this campaign," Gillespie said.
Asked if he would address any "flaws" from the failed Republican campaign for Governor in 2013, Gillespie said he would not speculate.
"I know how hard it is to be candidate now and I'm not going to speculate on flaws," Gillespie said.
When pressed by St. George on how he would address the women voter gap Gillespie said he would be running a campaign that would appeal to non-Republican voters.
"If you look at my website you can get a Spanish language version of my videos, or a Korean version," Gillespie added.
"I think for too long Republicans have written off huge segments of the electorate - I won't do that," Gillespie said.
As for whether or not he is "too-northern Virginian" for voters in Chesterfield , Gillespie said he was a chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia and general chairman for Bob McDonnell's campaign in 2009, noting though that name recognition will take time.
"I understand for the first time as a candidate it is going to take a little while," Gillespie admitted.
CBS 6 asked Gillespie about his communication with Speaker Howell and Republican leadership in the General Assembly over Medicaid expansion.
"I think Speaker Howell is providing strong leadership, we don't need to expand Obamacare in Virginia," Gillespie said.
Much of Gillespie's talking points went back to healthcare and Obamacare during the interview with CBS 6.
"I want to replace it," Gillespie reiterated.
Senator Warner, also addressed the issue of Obamacare Tuesday, telling CBS 6 he would tweak Obamacare so that businesses with less than one hundred employees could be exempted.
"If they got better ideas I will look at them as well," Warner said.