'HE'S GOING TO GET HIS HEAD HANDED TO HIM'
Almost all analysis of this year's Senate race gave Gilmore an exceedingly slim chance of claiming a spot in the U.S. Senate.
"The problem is Jim Gilmore has no base. Conservatives don't like him because he's not very pro-life. Moderates, they think he wrecked the budget. He's lucky that convention was in Richmond and the few political friends he has are there. If it had been in Northern Virginia, if it had been in Roanoke, if it would have been in Chesapeake, he probably wouldn't have gotten the nomination," said Cordel Faulk, director of communication at the UVa Center for Politics.
More than 300 elected independents and Republicans statewide have endorsed Warner, including former head of the Virginia senate finance committee John Chichester (R-Fredricksburg) and 2005 independent gubernatorial candidate Potts.
As Jim Gilmore faces polling deficits in the range of 25 points in nearly every public poll, Marshall fears that the former Governor might drag the Republican brand, and presidential candidate John McCain, down with him.
Marshall said because Gilmore is "going to get his head handed to him," a McCain loss of 3 to 5 percentage points in the total vote across Virginia is a possibility because of Gilmore's presence on the ticket.
For Gilmore's part, he has made a point on the campaign trail of reminding voters that he has overcome large polling deficits before. While in Blacksburg last week, Gilmore hammered home the point that the "liberal media" is trying to "suppress our turnout" by distributing inflated predictions.
"There's too many pollsters and too many pundits telling the voters what they think instead of listening to what the voters think," said Gilmore's campaign manager Dick Leggitt.
Leggitt sad that Marshall's concerns about Gilmore's electoral wherewithal were "sour grapes" from the delegate's defeat at the senatorial nominating convention.
State senator and candidate for state attorney general Ken Cuccinelli (R-Burke) disputed the reasoning that Gilmore might cost McCain points, saying that local representatives would drive voters to the polls and that Gilmore would not affect up-ticket voting.
"It's congressional candidates like the Bob Goodlattes (R-6th District) and Thelma Drakes (R-2nd District) of the world that are going to bring people out. They're the local candidate that wouldn't otherwise show up at all for either of the other offices. Our incumbent Republicans probably help up the ticket," Cuccinelli said.
For Republicans representing districts in the northern part of the state, defending their seats in times of turmoil is even more difficult.
Cuccinelli, the only Republican state senator in Northern Virginia, said that when his constituents are mad at Republicans in Washington, he hears about it.
"In my elections the downdraft from Washington is pretty severe and pretty serious. It is a problem in other parts of the state as well but in Northern Virginia -- because we live and breathe what goes on in Washington -- it's even worse. There's no question that the national brand genuinely affects what happens in state and local elections," Cuccinelli said. "If you're going to run as a team, you're going to suffer when your team doesn't perform well. What Republicans in Washington are doing and suffering for are things that I would have vote against every step of the way. The bailout, the drug entitlement, a lot of things that are contrary to anything I would ever vote for."
However the electoral math shakes out, Potts said one of the largest problems with Gilmore's campaign and the state Republican infrastructure in general has been the effect on the party's enthusiasm.
"In Winchester here, a traditionally Republican community, our Republican party is totally demoralized. You can hardly get any volunteers. If you drive by the (Democratic and Republican) headquarters, and you saw the difference. you would not believe it. You would immediately know that one had energy and youth and vision and hope and the other one had a bunch of ideologues that are hung up on God, guns and gays," Potts said.