Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Mark Warner--Radical Centrist

Last night we co-hosted a fundraiser in support of Gov. Mark Warner's run for the Senate. We hope to get some photos back shortly, but for now we'll just have to do with text.

Gov. Warner did well--he even impressed the always cynical (toward politicians) Mrs. Curmudgeon, who became an enthusiastic supporter after chatting with Virginia's next Senator and hearing what he had to say to the assembled group.

Warner told us he wants to be a "radical centrist" in the Senate, doing there what he did as Virginia's governor: putting together a bipartisan coalition of moderates in both parties to get working on our nation's problems.

It's a good sentiment, but probably not as easy as it sounds.

Warner's key issues appear to be energy and health, although he's clearly ready for just about anything.

On energy, don't expect Warner to follow Democratic Party orthodoxy: he's likely to favor a mix of incentives to stimulate new domestic oil and gas production, while also supporting renewable energy and increased nuclear production.

Warner also thinks--and he's probably right--that Democrats are a little off message on energy, putting too much emphasis on global warming and not enough on energy security. Politically, his instincts are good on this. But we could've engaged the Governor all night on energy policy, had time allowed. After all, the steps needed to achieve energy security--i.e., to reduce America's dependence on foreign oil--are different in important respects from those needed to reduce greenhouse emissions, although there is, fortunately, some common ground between the two.

[Even where the ground is common, there are obstacles. Take nuclear energy: essentially no greenhouse emissions and no reliance on foreign oil (although we may have to import uranium), yet there are still many activists standing in the way, and the nuclear waste issues remains a hot potato.]

Warner made a fortune in the private sector, and he clearly believes private enterprise, with some help from the government, is in the best position to help sovle our energy woes.

And by the way, Virginia being a coal state, Warner would not freeze coal out of the picture, although he certainly understands the need for new technologies to reduce coal CO2 emissions.

Warner is also keen on health care, and all the more knowledgable from having been governor of a fairly large state for four years. (It's a shame there aren't more former governors in the Senate these days, because they know their state programs and they know what the states need from the feds--right now there are only four former governors in the Senate, whereas in the past the typical path to the Senate was through the governor's mansion.)

What we like about Mark Warner is that he is a pragmatic progressive. He's not all that different from retiring Senator John Warner--they probably agree on a lot--but J. Warner is a pragmatic conservative and, unfortunately, beholden to a Republican party mired in bad ideas and policy.

For more on Mark Warner, check out his campaign website.

Finally, don't get complacent about this campaign--two years ago, George Allen had a nearly 20 point lead over Jim Webb at this point (he didn't utter "macaca" until August).

We're hoping 2008 will be a breakthrough year for Virginia, that will see it go blue for the first time in more than 40 years in a Presidential election. With Mark Warner headlining the state ticket, with an open congressional seat in Fairfax County and a couple other competitive congressional races around the state, with conservatives disillusioned with McCain (and even Gilmore0, and with African-Americans hopefully energized by Obama, the stars appear to be aligned the right way.


Anonymous said...

This is the best we can do, "Centrist Democrats"? Never trust moderates, they betray the party faithful at first opportunity. Moderates brought us hits like Joe Lieberman. How about we demand a little more out of our politicians, like maybe some liberalism.

Anonymous said...

Warner continues to dance around the uranium issue. And if anyone complains about possibly having to import uranium, remind them our own US government brokered that deal to sell & transport all Saddam's yellowcake to Cameco in Canada. To my knowledge, Cameco hasn't said if ANY of it will end up at nuclear reactors in the US. If Warner supports OK'ing huge open pit uranium mining within a few miles of neighborhoods & private wells, I'll vote elsewhere.