When Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) recently kicked off his presidential campaign, the understandable reaction from many Americans was simple: “Another one?” The GOP field was already packed with 15 candidates, but Kasich nevertheless created a Sweet 16 for his party.
But those who responded to the news by assuming the Republican field couldn’t possibly get any bigger jumped to the wrong conclusion. Yesterday, former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore (R) filed his paperwork with the Federal Election Commission, becoming the 17th candidate.
The Republican said back at the beginning of July that he planned a White House run.“I bring to the table experience that others don’t have,” Gilmore said in an interview with the Richmond Times-Dispatch in July. He told the paper that he’ll make his announcement during the first week of August. He served as Virginia’s governor from 1998 to 2002.
The Virginian will reportedly launch his national bid in a formal event early next month.
I hesitate to say this – these days, you just never know – but Gilmore’s entry really does seem to complete the Republicans’ 2016 field. Back in May, I put together what I saw a fairly comprehensive list of possible GOP candidates, and I came up with 22 names. Of those 22, 17 have launched White House bids, while four others have bowed out.
That leaves former Maryland Gov. Bob Ehrlich (R), who spent some time in New Hampshire earlier this year and expressed an interest in the race, but who has effectively disappeared from the public stage in recent months.
In other words, the current GOP field of 17 is done. Probably. I think.
As for Gilmore, this is actually his second presidential campaign, following a 2007 race that he quit fairly early on. In fact, it was exactly eight years ago this month that Gilmore ended his White House campaign to instead run for the U.S. Senate in his home state of Virginia.
He ended up losing that race by over 30 points in one of the year’s most lopsided Senate contests.
Gilmore has kept a relatively low public profile in recent years, though earlier this year, he eagerly condemned President Obama remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast for reasons that still don’t make any sense.
The former governor, who also briefly served as the chairman of the RNC, is one of the few Republican candidates who served in the military, which does give his resume a modest boost.
That said, it’s fair to say Gilmore is the longest of long shots in the 2016 race. He’s getting a very late start compared to his rivals; he faces a steep financial disadvantage; he enjoys low name-recognition; and the most recent polling average pegged the Virginian’s support in national surveys at 0.0%.