It's hardly unusual for other citywide officials — or even state-level legislators — to endorse city-district-level candidates. But in 2008, when relative uknown challenger Kimberly Gray secured the endorsement of then-U.S. Senate candidate Mark Warner, Warner's nod set off a game of endorsement one-up brinksmanship between Gray and then-incumbent School Board Vice Chairwoman Lisa Dawson.
Gray went on to win the 2008 race in what many city political observers considered a surprise upset.
For 2012, Gray once again has received Warner's seal of approval, injecting a fresh dose of star power into her campaign to hold her seat in this year's three-way race.
“Kim Gray possesses the leadership skills and innovative ideas necessary for our schools to excel and our children to compete in the 21st-century economy," Sen. Warner wrote in a statement released to Gray's campaign yesterday. "I enthusiastically endorse her re-election campaign to Richmond City School Board.”
Gray was an appointee to Warner's Partnership for Achieving Successful Schools initiative when he served as governor.
Gray's other endorsements this year include State Sen. Donald McEachin, the Richmond Education Association, the Richmond Realtors Association and the Richmond City Democratic Committee.
Judging from their campaign websites, Gray's challengers, U.S. Department of Defense employee Mariah L. White and former Richmond City Council Chief of Staff Daisy Weaver, have had less success securing nods from other elected officials or organizations. Their sites list no endorsements, though a key endorsement, that of the Richmond Crusade for Voters, has yet to be announced for citywide races.
Warner also has extended his endorsement to 1st District City Council challenger Jon Baliles, whose father Gerald Baliles is, like Warner, a former Virginia governor.