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A Virginian in the field

From NBC's Elizabeth Wilner
After former Gov. Mark Warner (D) abandoned his fledgling bid and Sen. George Allen (R) lost his seat on election day, it looked like Virginia wasn't going to be represented in the 2008 presidential field, after all. But former Gov. Jim Gilmore (R) plans to change that on January 2 when, per a press release from his law office, he expects to form an exploratory committee.

Gilmore is trying to fill the shoes that Allen had intended to fill as the mainstream conservative candidate in the GOP field. "It is my intention to fill that void," he says in the release. "For the Republican party to be successful we need electable candidates who can articulate a positive, mainstream conservative message that can reach all Americans." But it's unclear (to doubtful) whether Gilmore can raise the necessary money and campaign apparatus in what now seems like a relatively short period of time, since rivals John McCain and Mitt Romney have been in the race for months.

Gilmore served as governor of Virginia from 1998 until 2002 after campaigning famously on cutting the state's car tax. The press release also touts that Gilmore, who was governor when the Pentagon was attacked on September 11, 2001, chaired "the Congressional 'Gilmore Commission' from 1999 to 2003 to assess America's terrorism response capabilities." He's also a former chairman of the Republican National Committee.