Virginia Republicans have their nominee for the U.S. Senate. Ed Gillespie secured his party's nomination Saturday at the state convention in Roanoke, but he has a long road ahead, if he hopes to defeat the Democratic incumbent, Senator Mark Warner, in November.
Roanoke College Professor and WDBJ7 Senior Political Analyst Harry Wilson says it won't be easy.
"The task ahead of Gillespie is a very, very big task," Wilson told WDBJ7 Monday afternoon, "because you're taking on the most popular elected official in Virginia, and probably the most popular elected official in Virginia in a couple of decades."
Wilson says Gillespie will have enough money to make sure Virginians know him by November.
And with the President's popularity sagging in the state, Wilson says the November election might be the Republicans' best chance to take the Senate seat from Warner.
Former Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie will challenge U.S. Senator Mark Warner in November.
Virginia Republicans nominated Gillespie Saturday afternoon during their state convention at the Roanoke Civic Center.
Gillespie came into the convention as the odds-on favorite, but with three other candidates in the race, Republicans wondered if Tony DeTora, Shak Hill or Chuck Moss might make it a race.
Hill came close.
His supporters turned out in force, and Hill gave a rousing speech in which he said he was the only candidate of the four who could defeat Mark Warner in November.
"You know I have the moral authority to challenge Mark Warner," Hill told the convention delegates. "Not everyone in this race can make that claim. When you lobby for big bank bailouts, there is no separation between you and Mark Warner."
Gillespie worked the crowd before the vote. He was leading with 7 of the state's 11 congressional districts reporting when Hill conceded and moved to nominate Gillespie by acclamation.
"I am so honored and I accept your nomination to be the Republican nominee for the United States Senate from the great Commonwealth of Virginia, " Gillespie told the convention.
Bob Denton is a Virginia Tech professor and WDBJ7 political analyst. "I think at the end of the day, it was probably the organization, the time they put into it," Denton said. "People who show up control conventions."
Democrats are gearing up for a fight, targeting Gillespie's record as a Washington lobbyist.
Political consultant and Mark Warner supporter Dave Saunders joined other Democrats outside the civic center Saturday morning. "There's nothing wrong with being rich. There's nothing wrong with being successful," Saunders said, "but when guys like Ed Gillespie are champions of the greedy, I think that says enough."
Gillespie says he has the interests of Virginians at heart, and the ability to pull the party together to defeat Mark Warner in November.
"I'm honored to be the nominee of the United States Senate for the Republican party here," Gillespie said, "and I believe that through this nominating process we were able to get our nomination in a way that will unify our party.
Gillespie will waste no time launching the general election campaign.
His campaign has announced an "economic growth tour," that will begin Sunday with stops in Abingdon and Danville.
Republican Ed Gillespie will challenge U.S. Senator Mark Warner in November.
Gillespie won a first ballot victory Saturday afternoon at the Roanoke Civic Center where Republicans were holding their state convention.
Gillespie was leading the vote with 7 of 11 congressional districts reporting, when his closest competitor Shak Hill moved that the convention nominate Gillespie by acclamation.