Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Mark Warner for Senate

Now that John Warner has announced his retirement from the Senate, after 30 years of good service to Virginia and the nation, we hope that the other Warner--Mark--will run for the open seat.

We should be hearing from the former Governor before the end of the month. What's his calculus? On the one hand, Mark Warner seems to feel he is positioned as a potential Democratic VP candidate. We think that's an iffy proposition, at best.

[Of course, he may know a lot more than we do. Did Hillary cut some kind of back room deal with Warner many months ago, promising him the Veep slot if he dropped his presidential bid, which, at the time, appeared to be the most credible threat to Hillary's coronation? Would she keep that deal, even if she had made it? ]

Assuming there is no secret deal, then Warner still would be on any Democratic nominee's short list of potential running mates. But those "short" lists will be pretty long. In the end, the decision will be made on who can best complement the ticket or bring in a state that otherwise would be difficult to carry. We don't think any of the Democrats are going to be counting on carrying Virginia, with or without Warner on the ticket. He'll be in the ballgame, but ultimately won't get picked.

Now, let's look at his chances in a Senate race. Presumably, the Republicans will either (1) have a knock-down, drag-out battle between Jim Gilmore, of the conservative wing, and Tom Davis, of the "moderate" wing, further splitting an already divided state GOP, or (2) nominate Gilmore if Davis decides not to run. Either way, the Republicans will probably end up with Gilmore, who will be mostly remembered in Northern Virginia, at least, as the Governor who promised to end the car tax--but didn't.

Warner is a popular ex-governor who has plenty of personal money to augment his campaign. But he won't need it--he's already got a decent national fundraising base and will be able to raise millions without too much trouble, helped by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and by Jim Webb's base. Warner will do extremely well in Northern Virginia, without doing too poorly anywhere else in the state. Absent some awful "macaca" moment, he should win comfortably, with 52-54 percent of the vote.

Ironically, having Mark Warner run for Senate in 2008 would also improve the national ticket's chances in Virginia, especially if the race is against Gilmore. Warner should improve Democratic turnout in the state, especially in Northern Virginia, and if Republicans are even a little apathetic it might just be enough to swing Virginia to the Democratic side for the first time in decades.
Unfortunately, if Warner declines to run, the Democrats don't have anyone who stands out as an alternative.

To us, it boils down to this: Mark Warner should go for the surer thing. Yes, nothing is for sure in politics. But right now, the soon to be vacant Senate seat looks like Mark Warner's for the taking, whereas the VP slot is a total wildcard. If elected to the Senate, Warner will be respected by his colleagues and earn terrific committee assignments, like his colleague, Jim Webb.

Go for it, Mark!

No comments: