[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/02/13/art.gillespie.gi.jpg caption=" Gillespie will serve as general chairman of Bob McDonnell's campaign for governor."]WASHINGTON (CNN) - Ed Gillespie, a longtime adviser to George W. Bush, announced Friday he will serve as general chairman of Republican Bob McDonnell’s campaign for governor in Virginia.
McDonnell said in a statement that Gillespie, who ran the Republican National Committee from 2003 to 2005, has “a record of winning tough campaigns and helping to develop and enact policies that make life better for our citizens.”
McDonnell campaign manager Phil Cox said Gillespie “will be involved in every aspect of the campaign, from policy development to strategic decisions to fundraising.”
Gillespie’s ties to Bush extend back to the 2000 campaign, when he served as a senior communications adviser to the then-Texas governor. He went on to serve as RNC chairman during the administration and became a familiar face on Sunday talk shows. Gillespie is a founding party of the Washington lobbying firm Quinn, Gillespie and Associates, but he severed financial ties to the firm after he returned to serve in the White House in 2007. Cox said he is no longer a lobbyist.
Gillespie, a resident of Fairfax County, has also been a player in Virginia politics: He advised George Allen during his failed Senate re-election bid in 2006, and he briefly chaired the Republican Party of Virginia in 2006 and 2007.
Gillespie will likely be one of many prominent Republican leaders to help McDonnell, the commonwealth’s attorney general, as he seeks to win back the governor’s mansion from Democrats this fall. The GOP is itching for a big win after their drubbing in November, and the Virginia race will be a crucial test of President Obama’s political mettle in an off-year.
Bobby Jindal, Rudy Giuliani and Fred Thompson have all campaigned with or raised money for McDonnell, and John McCain is set cross the Potomac to campaign for him next month.
Story updated 12:38 p.m.