The Warner Factor

Former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner made clear his disinterest in the Number Two spot on the national Democratic ticket, telling state party delegates that he ...
by | June 15, 2008
 

Warner Former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner made clear his disinterest in the Number Two spot on the national Democratic ticket, telling state party delegates that he would turn down any veep offer that might have been in the offing from Barack Obama. Warner intends to concentrate on winning a U.S. Senate seat.

To which I say -- I doubt it matters.

Not that Warner couldn't help Obama. If you've been following the veepstakes at all, you know that Virginia's current governor, Tim Kaine, and its sitting Democratic senator, Jim Webb, have been frequently mentioned. Virginia has voted Republican every four years since LBJ's 1964 landslide, but recent Democratic successes and changing demographics have put the state very much in play this time around.

My own read, at this early stage, is that Obama's possible victory map would look much like John Kerry's 2004 map, only with the addition of Virginia, Colorado, Iowa and possibly New Mexico (while praying Michigan and Pennsylvania don't switch to John McCain). Obama opened his general election campaign with appearances in Virginia and clearly the commonwealth's favorite sons are due consideration.

But I think Warner will help Obama just as much as a Senate candidate as he would have as a running mate.

He's well-liked in the state and will continue stumping around and will doubtless spend millions of his own or other people's money on TV ads. Along the way, he'll doubtless put in a good word for his party's standard-bearer, and surely the two will do further joint appearances.

If Warner carries the Senate seat by, say, 60-40, that would have as much reverse-coattail effect as actually putting him on the ticket. And such an outcome isn't all that far-fetched. Warner's opponent, Jim Gilmore, was a disaster as governor and barely won his party's nomination a couple of weeks ago. (The Washington Post yesterday recounted Gilmore's sins against good governance in an unusually lengthy editorial.)

The upshot? Ed Rendell, don't count yourself out yet.

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