Did Thompson’s relatively late start in the race hurt him? It depends on where you are. In Virginia and Mississippi, for example, State Republican Chairmen John Hager and Jim Herring respectively told me that so preoccupied are Republicans in their states with state elections this fall that there is next to no discussion of the presidential race the following year. Indeed, in Virginia, the two likely Republican combatants for the Senate nomination, Rep. Tom Davis and former Gov. Jim Gilmore, have put off their own declaration of candidacies until after the all-important races for the state legislature in November. So a candidate announcing in September for a presidential race the following year has no problem.