Paul wins GOP straw poll

Richmond Times Dispatch | December 2, 2007
TYLER WHITLEY

ARLINGTON — Texas Rep. Ron Paul easily won a presidential poll at a Republican Party of Virginia conference here yesterday.

Paul polled 182 out of about 500 votes cast. Former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson finished second with 112 votes, and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee finished third with 51 votes.

The straw poll was held at the 24th annual Republican Advance, generally attended by activists and grass-roots workers, at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City Hotel in the Washington suburbs.

Republican officials dismissed the poll’s outcome, noting that Paul has been concentrating on winning straw polls all over the country.

Paul bused in young supporters. They waved signs and shouted loudly when his name was mentioned.

“He brought people in here. What is more critical to look at is who finished second and third. That is a more true indicator of the feelings of the Republican Party of Virginia,” said Tucker Watkins of Randolph in Charlotte County, a former 5th District GOP chairman.

Virginia Republicans and Democrats will each hold presidential primaries on Feb. 12. Because several other states have earlier votes, many observers think the nominees of the two parties will be decided by the time Virginians choose.

The major candidates, occupied in Iowa or New Hampshire where the earliest nominating contests will be held, sent surrogates yesterday.

The meeting brought good news for former Gov. Jim Gilmore, who is seeking the party’s nomination to run for the U.S. Senate. A prospective opponent, Del. Christopher B. Saxman of Staunton, said he would not seek the nomination. He said he would not be able to raise money while the General Assembly is in session this winter and so would not be able to mount a credible candidacy.

Del. Robert G. Marshall of Prince William has hinted that he might run, but he did not show up and had a friend read a statement prepared by him which indicated he likely would not run.

Gilmore in a brief speech to the Republicans, urged against defeatism and said he could beat former Gov. Mark R. Warner, a Democratic candidate for the seat now held by Republican Sen. John W. Warner, who is retiring.

“We’ve won two statewide contests [attorney general and governor], we’ve carried Northern Virginia twice,” Gilmore said.

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