RICHMOND, Va. – Republican former Gov. Jim Gilmore formally committed himself Monday to run for retiring U.S. Sen. John W. Warner's seat.
The announcement sets up a 2008 campaign with another former governor, Democrat Mark R. Warner — a clash between two men with vastly different views about government and little affection for the other.
Warner, no relation to the Republican senator, announced his intent to run for the seat in mid-September, just two weeks after John Warner announced his plans to retire after five terms.
Gilmore's announcement had been regarded a certainty weeks. It came in a video e-mailed to 5,000 supporters and reporters and posted on YouTube and other Internet video portals.
He also announced it in 70,000 letters mailed to backers dropped at a post office on Friday timed to arrive at mail boxes Monday, said Gilmore adviser Dick Leggitt.
No major nomination opponent is likely for either man.
Warner, 52, is by far his party's most popular and dominant figure and raised more than $1.1 million in less than two weeks after he announced his candidacy, according to Federal Election Commission records.
Gilmore, 58, effectively secured the GOP nomination in October when U.S. Rep. Thomas M. Davis chose not to run after the state Republican Party voted to select its nominee in a convention next summer, not a primary.
Gilmore waited until after the Nov. 6 legislative elections to announce his candidacy, then did it the same way Warner did: online. Gilmore will publicly inaugurate his campaign "with marching bands and all that stuff" early next year, Leggitt said.
In 1997, Gilmore was elected governor in a landslide after promising to eliminate the personal property tax that cities and counties in Virginia impose on private cars and pickup trucks.
By the end of Gilmore's term in 2002, however, the cost of the tax cut had exceeded projections, and a recession deepened by the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks had created a state budget shortfall that eventually topped $6 billion.
Mark Warner blamed the fiscal mess on Gilmore during his 2001 race against Republican Mark L. Earley, and again in 2004, when he secured passage through a Republican General Assembly of a budget-balancing tax package totaling $1.4 billion. Warner left office in January 2006 with job-approval ratings of more than 70 percent, the highest marks for any parting Virginia governor.
For years, Gilmore chafed at the criticism and has taken aim at Warner for what he describes as the largest tax increase in Virginia history.