HARRISONBURG — The list of Republicans in the running for the GOP nomination for U.S. Senate dropped by two Monday, including a potential candidate from the Shenandoah Valley.
Del. Ben Cline, R-Rockbridge, announced in a press release that he would not seek the nomination at this summer’s party convention. Hours earlier, retired Navy officer Howie Lind of McLean dropped out after several months of active campaigning.
Candidates interested in filing for the party nod must apply by 5 p.m. Saturday. The winner at the June convention will face incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Warner in November’s general election.
“For the past several years, I have been fighting as chairman of the conservative caucus to promote a conservative agenda for Virginia,” Cline said in the release. “From opposing the transportation tax hikes, to resisting the implementation of Obamacare, to defending our state constitution from attempts to redefine the institution of marriage, the Conservative Caucus is standing in the breach on behalf of Virginia values. At this moment in history, I cannot leave this field of battle to join another fight.”
Cline is a Harrisonburg attorney and former assistant in the Rockingham County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office. He also worked for U.S. Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Roanoke, before becoming a delegate.
The exit of Cline and Lind leave two people vying for the GOP nomination: former Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie, also of McLean, and retired Air Force combat pilot Shak Hill of Centreville.
On Monday, Gillespie picked up an endorsement from Sen. Mark Obenshain, R-Harrisonburg. That was not a total surprise because staff members from the senator’s unsuccessful attorney general campaign last year now work for Gillespie.
More surprising, however, was another endorsement Monday: former Republican U.S. Sen. John Warner for the Democratic incumbent. John Warner and Mark Warner are not related.
John Warner, a former Navy secretary, had never endorsed a Democrat. He defeated Mark Warner in the 1996 Senate race and retired after five six-year terms in 2008, at which point Mark Warner, a former governor, was elected to Congress.
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