Jim Gilmore, the former governor of Virginia, has entered the Republican presidential primary race. His candidacy brings the total number of GOP candidates to 17.
Gilmore filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission late Thursday afternoon, launching what Politico describes as the "longest of all long-shot presidential bids."
Gilmore flirted briefly with a run for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination, but dropped out in 2007 before the first early-state contests.
Historically, the conservative has expressed vehement opposition to same-sex marriage and civil unions. Gilmore used the issue as a talking point during his gubernatorial race and a 2008 campaign for the U.S. Senate. Gilmore lost the latter race to Democrat Mark Warner by 31 points.
Warner, who also opposed marriage equality at the time, announced he had "evolved" on the issue in 2013 and voted to repeal the ban on gays in the military in 2010.
"I’m not interested in sending a message of anger or hatred to anybody in this race — anyone. But I don’t support gay marriage," Gilmore told the editors of Human Events in a 2007 interview. "I think that the traditional marriage values that we’ve had over generations in America is the appropriate thing. The extent that people can find some way to build some kind of contractual relationship between themselves, fine, but I don’t think it should rise to a civil union which is really a substitute for the concept of marriage, and I don’t support that either."
The candidate describes himself as a "true conservative." His campaign did not respond to emails seeking clarification on whether or not he has also changed his position on marriage equality following the Supreme Court's ruling earlier this year.
Gilmore served as Virginia's governor from 1998 to 2002 and as chairman of the Republican National Committee for a year in 2001. He was in office during the September 11, 2001, terrorist attack on the Pentagon and advised George W. Bush on "domestic capabilities for terrorism involving weapons of mass destruction," according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch. He also served as Virginia's attorney general for three years.
Gilmore is one of several presidential hopefuls with Virginian roots. Jim Webb, a Democrat and former senator, is taking on Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination. Carly Fiorina, another Republican candidate and the former CEO of Hewlett-Packard, also lives in Virginia.