Ed Gillespie

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Ed Gillespie
Ed Gillespie by Gage Skidmore 2.jpg
Counselor to the President
In office
July 5, 2007 – January 20, 2009
President George W. Bush
Preceded by Dan Bartlett
Succeeded by Peter Rouse (2011)
Chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia
In office
December 4, 2006 – June 13, 2007
Preceded by Kate Obenshain
Succeeded by John Hager
Chairman of the Republican National Committee
In office
July 25, 2003 – January 20, 2005
Preceded by Marc Racicot
Succeeded by Ken Mehlman
Personal details
Born Edward Walter Gillespie
(1961-08-01) August 1, 1961 (age 61)
Mount Holly Township, New
, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Cathy
Children John
Alma mater Catholic University of America
Religion Roman Catholicism

Edward Walter "Ed" Gillespie (born August 1, 1961) is an American Republican political strategist who served as the 61st Chairman of the Republican National Committee and Counselor to the President in the George W. Bush administration. Gillespie, along with Democrat Jack Quinn, founded Quinn Gillespie & Associates, a bipartisan lobbying firm. Gillespie is also the founder of Ed Gillespie Strategies, a strategic consulting firm that provides high-level advice to companies and CEOs, coalitions, and trade associations. In January 2014, Gillespie announced he was running for Virginia's U.S. Senate seat currently held by Mark Warner in the 2014 election, and on June 7, 2014, he received the Republican nomination.[1] In October 2015, Gillespie announced his plans to run for Governor of Virginia in 2017 [2]

Early life

Gillespie was born August 1, 1961, in the Mount Holly Township, and raised in the Browns Mills section of Pemberton Township, New Jersey.[3] He is the son of Conny (Carroll) and Sean (later John) Patrick Gillespie, an immigrant from Ireland who grew up in North Philadelphia.[4][5] He is a graduate of The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C and Pemberton Township High School. While at CUA he began his career on Capitol Hill as a Senate parking lot attendant. He is married to Cathy Gillespie and has three children.[6]

Political career

Gillespie, raised in a Democratic family, began his political career as intern for Andy Ireland, at the time a Democrat from Florida. In 1984, Ireland joined the Republican party with Gillespie following, saying, "I liked President Reagan's approach to governing and it just made sense to me."[7] He then worked as telephone solicitor for the Republican National Committee in 1985. He later worked for a decade as a top aide to former House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-TX), and was a principal drafter of the GOP's 1994 "Contract With America."[6] In 1996, he became Director of Communications and Congressional Affairs for the Republican National Committee under Haley Barbour. In 1997, Gillespie formed Policy Impact Communications, a public affairs communications firm, with Barbour.[citation needed]

From 1999–2008, Gillespie served as a political strategist to several American politicians. In 1999, Gillespie worked as the Press Secretary for the Presidential campaign of John Kasich until his withdrawal from the race. In 2000, Gillespie served as senior communications advisor for the presidential campaign of George W. Bush, organizing the party convention program in Philadelphia for Bush's nomination and Bush's inauguration ceremony. He also played an aggressive role as spokesman for the Bush campaign during the vote recount in Florida.

In 2002, he was a strategist for Elizabeth Dole's 2002 Senate campaign.[7]

In 2003, Gillespie was selected as Chairman of the RNC, serving in that role through the 2004 elections that saw President Bush win re-election and Republicans retain control of the House and Senate.[7] His book Winning Right was released in September 2006.[8]

Gillespie served as Chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia from December 2006 to June 2007. He played a visible role in 2006 Virginia Senate elections as a spokesman for defeated Virginia Senator George Allen. He had been tapped by Allen as a political adviser for a possible presidential run in 2008 before that loss. In February 2009, Virginia Attorney General Bob McDonnell announced that Gillespie would serve as General Chairman of his campaign for Governor. Gillespie has served as an adviser to American Crossroads.[9]

White House counselor

In late June 2007, President Bush brought Gillespie into the White House on a full-time basis, to replace the departing Counselor to the President Dan Bartlett with the mandate to help raise Bush's flagging popularity ratings. When Karl Rove also departed in August, the Washington Post described Gillespie as stepping up to do part of Karl Rove's job in the White House.[10] A later Post article described Gillespie's role orchestrating a PR unit dedicated to "selling the surge to American voters and the media."[11] According to the latter article:

From the start of the Bush plan, the White House communications office had been blitzing an e-mail list of as many as 5,000 journalists, lawmakers, lobbyists, conservative bloggers, military groups and others with talking points or rebuttals of criticism...Gillespie arranged several presidential speeches to make strategic arguments, such as comparing Iraq to Vietnam or warning of Iranian interference. When critics assailed Bush for overstating ties between al-Qaeda and the group called al-Qaeda in Iraq, Gillespie organized a Bush speech to make his case. "The whole idea is to take these things on before they become conventional wisdom," said White House communications director Kevin Sullivan. "We have a very short window."

Later in 2007, the Washington Post reported that Gillespie had taken a substantial pay cut to become Bush's counselor. "A disclosure form shows he made nearly $1.3 million in salary and bonus in the previous 18 months at his consulting and public affairs firm.... His annual government salary is $168,000. The form, obtained by the Associated Press, reports that Gillespie, ... a former Capitol Hill aide who co-founded his lobbying shop in 2000 ..., has accumulated a fortune estimated to be between $7.86 million and $19.4 million."[12]

Post-White House

In 2009, Gillespie was the chairman of Bob McDonnell's successful campaign for governor of Virginia.[13]

In January 2010, Gillespie was announced in as the national chairman of the Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC), which helps elect state attorneys general, lieutenant governors, secretaries of state and state house and senate candidates. But Gillespie was not legally listed as the RSLC chairman until February 2011, when the organization filed updated documents with the IRS.[14]

Gillespie served on the board of trustees of his alma mater, The Catholic University of America.[citation needed]

In April 2012, Gillespie became a senior advisor to Mitt Romney's 2012 presidential campaign.[15]

2014 U.S. Senate run

In December 2013, Gillespie told Politico that he was considering running for the U.S. Senate in Virginia against Democratic incumbent Mark Warner in the 2014 election.[16] In January 2014, he officially launched his candidacy.[17] He named Chris Leavitt, campaign manager of Mark Obenshain's 2013 run for Virginia Attorney general, his campaign manager.[18] On June 7, 2014, he became the Republican nominee after receiving about 60% of the vote at the state party convention.[1] This was the first time Gillespie has ever sought public office.[16]

Although Warner had been consistently leading Gillespie by double-digit margins in polls before October, Gillespie nearly upset Warner on Election Day, losing by a margin of just 0.8% and 17,723 votes. Gillespie conceded the race on November 7, 2014.[19]

Political positions

Gillespie has stated that he is opposed to the 2010 Affordable Care Act (commonly called Obamacare), criticizing it for its "negative impacts" and stating that he would "repeal and replace it."[20] He has called for increased federal spending in defense, specifically stating that the US Navy needs more ships. He has voiced support for the Keystone Pipeline and criticized federal regulations that "[slow] down the development of energy infrastructure."[21]


  1. 1.0 1.1 At GOP convention in Roanoke, Republicans pick Gillespie to face Warner in Senate race
  2. https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/virginia-politics/gillespie-confirms-he-is-running-for-va-governor/2015/10/02/26a6d3f2-6912-11e5-9223-70cb36460919_story.html
  3. DiUlio, Nick. "Ed Gillespie: The Face of the RNC", South Jersey Magazine, January 2005. Accessed May 22, 2013. "Born in Mount Holly at Burlington County Memorial Hospital and raised in Browns Mills, Gillespie, 43, went from being just another small-town boy who took humble bike rides with his dog and ran from the Jersey Devil, to Chairman of the Republican National Committee and regular strategic confidant of the leader of the free world."
  4. National Review: "A Great Loss" By Ed Gillespie January 9, 2012
  5. http://www.c-span.org/video/?303952-6/ed-gillespie-remarks
  6. 6.0 6.1 "Arena Profile: Ed Gillespie". Politico. Retrieved August 18, 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Lyman, Rick (May 16, 2004). "Scratching Behind Ears of Bush's 'Pit Bull'". The New York Times. New York, NY. Retrieved June 18, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "Winning Right". Simon & Schuster. Retrieved October 28, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Strassel, Kimberley (April 9, 2010). "The Right Ramps Up". Wall Street Journal. News Corporation. Retrieved April 10, 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "As Rove Departs, President Again Turns to Gillespie." by Michael A. Fletcher, Washington Post, August 16, 2007.
  11. "Among Top Officials, 'Surge' Has Sparked Dissent, Infighting." by Peter Baker et al., Washington Post, September 9, 2007.
  12. Baker, Peter (December 10, 2007). "Perino's 'Missile Crisis' Confession". Washington Post. Retrieved May 3, 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. Catalina Camia (January 16, 2014). "Ex-GOP chairman Ed Gillespie declares Va. Senate bid". USA Today. Retrieved August 4, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. Alexander Burns (August 4, 2014). "Powerhouse GOP group snared in money scheme".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. Martin, Jonathan (April 5, 2012). "Ed Gillespie joins Team Romney". Politico. Retrieved May 27, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. 16.0 16.1 Ex-RNC chair Ed Gillespie weighs Mark Warner challenge in Virginia
  17. "Former RNC Chairman Ed Gillespie launches Senate bid against Warner", The Washington Times. January 16, 2014. REtrieved January 31, 2014.
  18. Gillespie will challenge Warner, hire Obenshain campaign manager
  19. Kyle Cheney & Darren Samuelsohn (November 7, 2014). "Gillespie concedes Va. Senate race to Warner". Politico. Retrieved February 2, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. Branscome, Jeff (April 4, 2014). "Warner urging changes in ACA". Fredericksburg.com. Retrieved June 18, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. Cooper, Elsie (April 14, 2014). "Gillespie Sticks with Conservative Values". americanthinker.com. Retrieved June 18, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links

Party political offices
Preceded by
Marc Racicot
Chairperson of the Republican National Committee
Succeeded by
Ken Mehlman
Preceded by
Kate Obenshain
Chairperson of the Republican Party of Virginia
Succeeded by
John Hager
Preceded by
Jim Gilmore
Republican nominee for U.S. Senator from Virginia
(Class 2)

Most recent
Political offices
Preceded by
Dan Bartlett
Counselor to the President
Title next held by
Pete Rouse