Davis announced Thursday he will not run for retiring Virginia Sen. John Warner's seat.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Rep. Tom Davis said Thursday he will not run for the open Senate seat in Virginia next year.
The Republican congressman from Northern Virginia had been considering a bid to succeed his friend, retiring Sen. John Warner, who announced this summer that he would not run for re-election in 2008.
With Davis out, the race to succeed Warner appears to be a battle of two former Virginia governors, Democrat Mark Warner, no relation, and Republican Jim Gilmore.
Warner announced his intentions last month and has raised over a million dollars. He is still very popular with Virginia voters and early polling puts him ahead of Gilmore in a potential head to head match up. National Democrats are betting Warner can win back the Republican held seat and help the party expand its current slim 51 to 49 majority in the Senate.
Meanwhile, both Warner and Gilmore flirted with White House runs. Warner considered a presidential bid but eventually decided against it and Gilmore jumped into the race for the White House at the beginning of the year but dropped out in July after he failed to find traction among conservative voters.
The move by Davis ends the possibility of a bitter intra-party fight in Virginia. Gilmore is a conservative Republican from central Virginia. Davis is a moderate Republican from the northern part of the state. Davis, like the retiring Warner, often doesn’t see eye to eye with the conservative wing of his party.
Davis’s announcement follows a decision earlier this month by Virginia Republicans to nominate their Senate choice through a state convention next June rather than a primary vote. That move seems to make the anti-tax crusading Gilmore the favorite, since conservative activists dominate most Republican conventions in Virginia.
Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Virginia, tells CNN that he thinks Gilmore is in sync with Virgnia voters. But he dodged a question from CNN Congressional Producer Deirdre Walsh on whether he’s planning on running for Warner’s seat, saying “I’ve learned you never say never in politics.”
The big question now concerning Davis is if he’ll run for re-election for his House seat next year. Davis’ spokesman told CNN that decision will have to “wait for another day.”
– CNN's Paul Steinhauser and Deirdre Walsh
Davis recognizes political suicide when he sees it!
Mark Warner should have run for President! There is no one better at spurring economic growth, implementing taxes that the middle and lower classes don't feel, and cleaning up the awful, deplorable mess left behind by neo-conservative administrations. Warner 08, Warner 12, Warner 16
Okay- so the stage is set. Mark Warner vs. Jim Gilmore, good vs. evil.
Trivia question: when was the last time Virginia had two Democratic senators and a Democratic governor ?
Good news for the Dems. With a more conservative candidate moderate independants will vote Democratic. Getting closer to 60 everday!
This will basically guarantee that the Mark Warner wins the Senate seat (check out these Senate rankings), but also is a blow to House Democrats - if Davis runs for re-election. There are a lot of indications and speculations that he is preparing to completely retire. His district would favor a Democratic pick-up.
WISE MAN OR SCARED.
Warner is the best. Gilmore is just a political ideologue who has no soltions. Virginia of today needs pragmatists not ideologues.