Tweed jackets and seasonal sweaters began to fill up the side dining room of Rowe’s Family Restaurant. The windblown and rose-cheeked cautiously chose their seats, ensuring they were near others with whom they were sufficiently familiar. They came from all over. Some wanted to see, and others wanted to be seen. Some came to voice their opinion, while some had yet to form one.
“He’s running a smidge late. Just mingle amongst yourselves.”
Like all politicians, Ed Gillespie was running the ubiquitous twenty minutes behind schedule. An older man mused why he and his wife even showed up; they had voted early, fearing an imminent death might cost them the chance to cast their ballot for the man they hoped could wrest control of the Senate from the iron grip of Mark Warner.
Gillespie wasn’t the only one to benefit from the impressive turnout of the Republican base in Augusta County and beyond. Blue blazers and bow ties swirled around the room as state representatives and Republican personalities took advantage of the lull to make connections and garner support for their own political ambitions.
Conversations quickly ceased and gave way to applause once the Senate hopeful walked into the room. The crowd had grown tired of its pie and pleasantries. They were ready to hear from the man on whom many have placed their hope for a Red Virginia.
Capitalizing on the momentum of his well-received entrance, Gillespie started rousing the troops. Amidst the typical campaign boilerplate, there was bit of call and response. Like a preacher of old-time religion, his fervor and confidence seamlessly spread amongst the crowd until whoops of assent echoed through the restaurant. Cheering and rounds of applause followed each vague promise of policy change as if it was tribute to the modern State of the Union.
Sensing the end of the speech, the crowd entered into rhythmic clapping and offered a standing ovation. And, as quickly as it began, Mr. Gillespie’s time in Staunton was finished. A customary “God bless the United States of America”, some glad-handing, and he was gone.
Trailing by near double-digits in every major poll, Ed Gillespie’s enthusiasm and energy defy reality. He ostensibly believes that, though out-spent, his supporters have out-worked Warner’s campaign machine. In a little over twenty-four hours, we will find out if all that hard work will have paid off.