At 4:00 p.m. on December 28, Northern Virginia businessman Tim Donner officially withdrew as a candidate for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate. Donner had been seeking to succeed Senator Jim Webb, the Democratic incumbent, who announced his retirement earlier this year.
In an exclusive telephone interview with the Charlottesville Libertarian Examiner less than an hour before the announcement, Donner explained his reasons for withdrawing, why he thinks it is critical to defeat both Barack Obama and presumptive Democratic Senate nominee Tim Kaine in November, and whether he would consider running on a third-party ticket.
“I’ve spent the last year running this race very hard,” Donner said. “I’ve done everything that I could do. I’ve traveled to virtually every corner of the Commonwealth. I’ve delivered countless speeches. I’ve been very pro-active with radio, print, Internet, social media. I’ve met with so many people from political leaders to activists, rank-and-file voters, business owners, all sorts of people.”
During the campaign, he said, “I’ve got to know every got to meet or know every major political figure in the Commonwealth and I believe that I’ve left a very positive impression with my campaign.”
Unfortunately, from Donner’s perspective, those political leaders did not rally behind him.
“The reality is,” he explained, “that the entire Republican political establishment from the Governor on down has gotten behind George Allen. It is evident to me that George Allen will be the nominee.”
Real battle lies ahead
In observing those realities, Donner said, he acknowledged that “now is the time for me to exit the stage and to make way for the real battle ahead, which is beating Tim Kaine in November.”
Among the factors in his decision to withdraw was facing the task of collecting 10,000 petition signatures to qualify for the June primary ballot, an issue that also arose in the failure of the majority of GOP presidential candidates to compete in the GOP’s March primary election here.
Getting his name on the ballot, he said, “is a daunting task for anybody but especially someone in the political realm for the first time.”
Donner explained that “to run a real race rather than a vanity campaign or ego trip, I would need to set up substantial political operations around the state. It would involve a considerable additional investment of my own, not only my time but my money.”
He pointed out that he has already invested “almost a quarter of a million dollars” of his own money into the campaign, in addition to raising “money well into the six figures” from donors.
In part two of this interview, Donner explains the process that led to his decision to withdraw, the possibility of a third-party bid, and why he thinks 2012 is a crucial election year.