Warner Goes for Senate

by: Matt Stoller

Thu Sep 13, 2007 at 09:03


Mark Warner has annouced he's in the Senate race with this disgusting Lieberman-esque video.   Running for Governor is a different game than running for Senate; as Governor, social issues are much less important, foreign policy ideas are irrelevant, and the national infrastructure of the parties don't matter.  It's really just about local competence, which is why Mitt Romney and George Pataki were easily reelected Republicans but could never move to the Senate in their states.

Warner's a centrist, not a partisan, and my guess is that this will turn a lot of people off who had previously 'loved' Mark Warner.  If the Republicans can find a candidate, I think he's going to have a bumpier ride than expected.  He'll still win, in all likelihood, but he's going to be a bad Senator.

But those were delicious chocolate fountains.

UPDATE:  I'm getting the question of why I think he'll be a bad Senator. One, he made his initial forture by entering a spectrum auction almost no one knew about it except big telecom companies and Congressional staffers.  At the time he was a Congressional staffer [UPDATE: Warner had been a staffer, but wasn't at the time he started his telecom business].  This is a classic case of 'honest graft'.  I don't like politicians who make their money by legally stealing public assets, because they tend to think that public policy that reduces incentives for stealing public assets is not particularly wise.  And two, his foreign policy ideas on Iran and Venezuela are crazy.

UPDATE AGAIN:  Lowell Feld is extremely angry, and it was not my intent to provoke bitterness.  The chocolate foundation dig was a bad joke, and I apologized to Jerome for it.  My primary concern on Warner is that 'centrism' might be a cover to perpetuate an economic system that privileges the corporate interests that are already too strong in the Democratic Party.  That said, Warner is extremely good on net neutrality, and he has fought big telecom companies so he does know the score in business.  I could be wrong, I'm going to be interested to see how he handles populism.

I stand by my skepticism, as I'll note that he did not mention the word Iraq, alluding once to a 'mismanaged war', but did talk about disliking partisanship several times.  Nevertheless, the tone of my post was probably off, and I'm keeping an open mind.  He is relatively new to dealing with foreign affairs.  My apologies, Lowell, I didn't mean to offend, only to offer the other side of the coin.  Both of us agree that he's probably going to win, and Virginia candidates I know are excited because of the coattails he brings.

Matt Stoller :: Warner Goes for Senate

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Why would Warner make a bad Senator? .. (0.00 / 0)
maybe he's doing it to bone up on his foreign relations expertise.  He's a pretty bright politician, so i'll wait and see what he does first.

venezuela and iran (0.00 / 0)
First of all, Warner made his money through insider telecom deals by working as a Congressional staffer and entering a spectrum auction almost no one knew about.  It was a classic case of 'honest graft'.

Second of all, he's crazy when it comes to Venezuela and Iran, which means his foreign policy instincts are awful.


[ Parent ]
thanks for the answer /nt (0.00 / 0)


New Jersey politics at Blue Jersey.

[ Parent ]
a bad senator? (0.00 / 0)
Sure, I can see why it will be a harder run than many think.

I guess I'd like to know more about why you think he'd be a bad senator.  [I'm in New Jersey after all, so we can't contribute any more senators than we've already got.]  I for one think the nation's finances -- which are a disaster -- will be an important issue to deal with -- as important as any, and I imagine he will be good on that issue. 

If the senate is controlled by Democrats, I don't think anything too horrible is likely to happen on the social front.  (Obviously given the lengths of service possible in the Senate, there's every likelihood that eventually Warner will be in a Republican-controlled Senate.) 

New Jersey politics at Blue Jersey.


Intro Video (0.00 / 0)
Promises to spend "more time focused on getting our country fixed, and less time on partisan bickering."

http://markwarner200...


How do you sleep Stoller? (4.00 / 2)
Seriously... you call Warner "disgusting Lieberman-esque" because he is calling for consensus building and for everyone to work together.  Wakeup call!!!! Republicans are people.  Just because their leaders engage in the politics of division doesn't mean we have to.  Lieberman is bad because he VOTES republican... his calls for bi-partisanship are really calls for republican partisanship.  We do need work work together... it is unfair and shitty of you to call Warner disgusting because he wants to bring people together.  Shame on you.

"Republicans are people too. Just because their leaders... " amen (4.00 / 1)
Even as partisan Democrats, we must always keep sight of the fact that the leaders of the republican party are the enemy, not the voters.

I know, Matt, that you have railed against other versions of this statement (I remember a speech Obama gave that basically said "the leaders of the religious right are the enemy, not Christians") and I have always agreed that Democrats shouldn't triangulate against themselves in response to nothing. But Warner's not doing that (Lieberman did).

Progressive Change Campaign Committee


[ Parent ]
i'd rather he run for governor (0.00 / 0)
that way we're more likely to have a democratic governor for redistricting in VA.

Mark Warner (4.00 / 4)
Mark Warner put Virginia Democrats back in the state wide party business. He made it acceptable to be a Democrat for white men. In 2001 we saw white male volunteers showing up for the first time in a long time.

Mark Warner saved Virginia's AAA credit rating when the Republican legislature played budget games. That comes out to millions of dollars of interest Virginians will not have to pay. California Democrats wish they had someone like Mark Warner.

Mark may not remain as popular with national netroots, but Mark doesn't need national netroots, he remains popular with all sectors of the Virginia Democratic party.

Mark will not only win big, he will bring new Democratic congress members in with him. The 11th, 10th, and 2ncd will all likely go Democratic as a result of having Mark on the ticket, to say nothing of Virginia's electoral college votes. Depending upon who we recruit for candidate, we can win the 4th, 5th, and even possibly the 6th.

Mark does buy into the foreign policy conventional wisdom, but he is backing off and will continue to back off as it becomes increasingly obvious that the CW is dysfunctional.


Warner will win (4.00 / 2)
Honestly, do any of you even live in Virginia? I have since 1988. Look at the choices running against Warner, because he'll be the presumptive Democratic nominee:

Jim Gilmore: Fucking disaster as both governor and chairman of the VA GOP.  Gilmore won the gubernatorial race against Don Beyer by promising to eliminate the car tax, which is a personal property tax for Virginians.  After Gilmore was elected the car tax bills came in and people wouldn't pay them because of Gilmore's promise.  Gilmore basically drove the state's economy into the ground, endangering our AAA bond rating.  Warner was elected and turned the state around.  Oh, and let's not forget Gilmore's recent foray into national politics.  If you blinked, you missed it.

Tom Davis: Claims to be a moderate Republican but really, he is a solid Bush soldier.  Was chairman of the oversight committee before Waxman.  Most serious investigation: Steroids in baseball.  I can't imagine there was anything else more serious going on at the time.  More on Tom Davis.

Pat Buchanan: Riiiight.

But those were delicious chocolate fountains, Jerome.

Sounds like someone has a case of fountain envy, Mattie.  Stop behaving like an ass.


precisely so (4.00 / 1)
moreover, after Chap Petersen defeats Davis' wife this year, Davis will look like damaged goods.

Mark Warner may very well run unopposed.

Stoller can console himself with the knowledge that Mark will be very strong on Net Neutality.


[ Parent ]
By the time he gets to the Senate, Net Neutrality will be dead (0.00 / 0)
and it won't be revived.
Too much money will already have changed hands.
The FTC and the FCC have both signed off to end NetNeut, and put it in the hands of the 'market.'
Toooooo laaaaaaate...

[ Parent ]
I can't imagine a Dem who'll oppose Warner (0.00 / 0)
This will be Chap's year.  Boot both Davises out of office.

More important questions:

What will Leslie Byrne do?  Creigh Deeds? 

Who will run against Allen if Allen runs for Governor in 2009?


[ Parent ]
Who's disputing that he'll win? (0.00 / 0)
Not Stoller. And the issue of residency making you inherently smarter has been discussed before- it's not a compelling case.

John McCain opposes the GI Bill.

[ Parent ]
If they'll happily profit from "Honest Graft", (0.00 / 0)
they ain't all THAT far from grasping for the "real" kind.
There's a kind of hubris in this, the notion that somehow the rules don't realy apply to 'em.
Fuck Mark Warner for a venal, grasping, dishonest bitch. He'll make a great DINO-Republican...

I recommend deleting your diary, but that's just my opinion (4.00 / 3)
I don't know what side of the bed you got up on, but maybe you can save that for another diary. 

"with this disgusting Lieberman-esque video."

He talks about the problems of Virginia, says partisan politics were a problem.  Sound firmiliar to anyone else?  Obama talks about the problems of America and says partisan problems are a problem.  Did you catch that?  Sounds like Obama?  I don't remember seeing you stamp him as Leibermann-esque.  But then again I don't avidly follow the blogs that close, so I could be wrong.  Please correct me if I am. 

I'm going to hope you expected to go somewhere with this beyond complaining, so I'm going to ask what you plan on doing?  Are you going to try to push a primary challenger to Mark Warner?  Or are you going to recommend Tom Davis for the seat?  I'd love to know.  If you're just sideline complaining, then okay.  That's just one of my big pet peeves.  People who could complain about anything, do so, without any reasonable answers to their "problem", just so they can get off and complain some more. 

Fact Check:  Willard Mitt Romney (born March 12, 1947) was the 70th Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Elected in 2002, Romney served one term and did not seek re-election in 2006; his term expired January 4, 2007.[1]

Or did you mean something else by "Mitt Romney and George Pataki were easily reelected Republicans but could never move to the Senate in their states."  -I'm pointing out that Mitt Romney wasn't reelected.  And his run was pre-being governor. 

"Warner's a centrist, not a partisan, and my guess is that this will turn a lot of people off who had previously 'loved' Mark Warner."

A couple of things.  Yes.  Warner isn't Lefty McLefterson.  I'd prefer his position over the alternatives, (Unless, again, you have somebody you are pushing for the primary that requires a looksie).  The blogosphere can contribute to this race or not.  It doesn't matter.  Mark Warner will get a strong outpour of support from Virginia, and if worse comes to worse, he can self-fund a little. 

By the way, SSP did a little overview.  Former/Sitting Governor's have won 2/3 of the time for the races applicable from the last 20 years. 

So I'm going to criticize your poor job of trying to pin him and Romney in the same crowd. 
1. It's an open seat.  Not a sitting incumbent senator. 
2. Romney ran for Senate before he was a governor, Mark Warner is running after he was a governor. 
3. Massachussets is flat out blue and Virginia is seen as purple. 
These races are nowhere near as similar as you tried to paint them. 


Virginia governnors (4.00 / 1)
Virginia Governors who later went on to the US Senate:
George Allen
Chuck Robb
Harry Byrd Sr.

there are probably others, those are just the ones I know of.

this is Virginia we are talking of, Mark is the most progressive we could possibly elect. Moreover Mark is a great team player, he will support the future Dem president whoever that might be and won't be one of the prima donnas going on national TV to criticize our Dem President.


[ Parent ]
Partisan politics isn't a bad thing (0.00 / 0)
Unless only one party is actually engaging in partisan politics. See Congress, U.S.

Partisan politics gets a bum rap, but what exactly does non-partisan politics look like?

John McCain opposes the GI Bill.


[ Parent ]
Maybe you don't know the story (0.00 / 0)
Partisan politics would have prevented Mark Warner from being the popular governor he is, and would have prevented his state from being the best managed state while he was governor, and it would have prevented a lot of significant bills from passing.  Warner got 17 Republicans to vote with him to raise taxes, but invest into things like education.  Your case FOR partisan politics does not carry much volume when it comes to this man. 

[ Parent ]
I was born and raised in Virginia (0.00 / 0)
including during his time as Governor. So I'm familiar with the story.  I'm not sure what definition of partisanism you're working with, but it clearly isn't mine.  I don't see how getting Republicans to vote for legislation is non-partisan in itself, nor do I see that "centrist" or "moderate" (whatever the hell they mean) preempts partisanship in any major way.  You're still hopefully pushing the agenda of a single party, making the case to others that it's the best way to go about things, and not buying into the criticisms of the opposition party.

You may have some sort of beef with militant partisanism, but that's a different kettle of fish.

John McCain opposes the GI Bill.


[ Parent ]
That doesn't make any sense then (0.00 / 0)
If I'm a partisan politician, on the opposite side of you, why would I vote with you, ever?  I got elected because my people hated your people more than they hate my people.  It would be counterproductive for my reelection to vote for you.  That inessence, embodies the tone of partisan politics.  Granted, it usually isn't 100% across the board partisan, but they don't play it up to its full extent. 

[ Parent ]
Your premise presumes (0.00 / 0)
that there's no underlying shared group of priorities that supercede party.  I'm saying that many of those issues do, in fact, exist, and that you don't have to abandon your party to get things done.  For example, wanting to improve schools is not a partisan issue.  You can introduce and push Democratic policy proposals (partisan) without demonizing Republicans (nonpartisan).

There are a bunch of nebluous terms being thrown around like they're mutually exclusive, but they aren't.  If people didn't want choices though, there wouldn't BE political parties or organized oppositional ideologies.

John McCain opposes the GI Bill.


[ Parent ]
Obviously you don't define partisan as partisan (0.00 / 0)
The position of a partisan Republican is different on the issue of education.  They believe in giving people the money to go to private schools (or something like that - you'll have to excuse the fact that I'm not up to par on my Republican education rhetoric) which alone is reason enough to vote against a Democrats proposal.  The fact that it isn't their plan. 

Or they could argue that the raise in taxes/spending to pay for investing in schools is too much for their constituents to want/take/whatever. 

So, my answer is we aren't thinking of the same partisans when you brought up this idea that partisan can be a good thing.  Again.  If I'm partisan, my goal is to disagree with you and give whatever reasons I can to disagree with you.  It is important that I do that, because my district hates your type of government more than they hate mine. 


[ Parent ]
P.S. (0.00 / 0)
I really enjoyed the condescending tone, it was productive.

John McCain opposes the GI Bill.

[ Parent ]
I share your frustration (0.00 / 0)
The country would be better served by a more partisan Democratic party. As all the Republican ideas are bad we should offer no cooperation.

Moreover, Stoller is correct that Mark's view of Iran is cracked.

However, Mark really is the very best Virginia voters would vote for.


[ Parent ]
Back off -- he's a technocratic progressive who does well in rural VA (4.00 / 3)
that's not so bad, is it? I mean it's not CT, it's Virginia. He cleaned up in rural Virginia, and he will do so again. He's not talking about capitulation, or triangulating against the left.

He actually reminds me a lot more of Obama than of Lieberman, and for Virginia, I think that's just fine. If Virginia can vote Democratic in 3 consecutive elections ('05, '06, and '08) that'll be a pretty huge victory for the party in a movement sense. I'm just not buying your complaints, Matt.

Progressive Change Campaign Committee


Explain this logic to me. (0.00 / 0)
A major piece of what the netroots tried to do in 2006 was to compete in every district.  The fundamental idea being that these areas had been neglected and written off, but that it should not be presumed that they just "are" Republican inherently and forever.  Essentially, the campaign to compete everywhere was based on the idea that there is no such thing as "just as good as it can get there."  No reason to give up before trying or pushing the envelope as far as it can go.

So, independent of what you or others may think of Mark Warner in particular, how long do we make excuses for seats or districts held by people who are "just as good as it can get there?"  Where's the difference in logic and perspective?

John McCain opposes the GI Bill.


[ Parent ]
Mark at the top (0.00 / 0)
Mark at the top of the VA ticket makes it possible to elect progressive congressional candidates, it will make the H of R far more progressive. It also makes it likely we will carry VA  for the Presidential candidate.


[ Parent ]
VA is not blue (0.00 / 0)
It is barely purple.  Outstate, it is red as they come.

Warner has a good chance as a centrist.  As a progressive or liberal, he would be totally toast.

I don't understand the position of this site.  Clearly, you care little for actual electoral success.  An odd position for a political site, IMHO.


Why (0.00 / 0)
is it that everyone presumes that progressive is the opposite of Republican? It isn't.  What exactly does centrist mean?  If it isn't to do with progress, then I'm not sure I see the virtue.

John McCain opposes the GI Bill.

[ Parent ]
So? (0.00 / 0)
He's the best viable choice for senator in Virginia; obviously he has many flaws, but I don't see other more liberal potential candidates lining up who wish to challenge him.  A center-right politician who's at least nominally Democratic (and Warner is far better than Lieberman in this respect) is preferable to a far-right nut like Gilmore.  And if your argument against him is that his victory isn't guaranteed, that applies twofold to anybody else.  Additionally, the Democratic Party of Virginia will benefit from his run, as his position appeals to a large portion of independents.

That was the logic last year (0.00 / 0)
And nobody seems especially satisfied with the performance of Democratic majorities in the House or Senate. 

John McCain opposes the GI Bill.

[ Parent ]
Hmm (0.00 / 0)
I suppose they were just thrilled by the previous Republican majorities, then?  Progress is incremental, especially in states such as Virginia; you have to accept that if you want to see any progress done.

[ Parent ]
I'm sure they weren't (0.00 / 0)
But have you noticed that mattering?

John McCain opposes the GI Bill.

[ Parent ]
Yes, Warner will be a bellicose saber-rattler (4.00 / 1)
as a Senator, and that makes him wrong on foreign policy.  But we have dealt with bellicose saber-rattlers on foreign policy before, and we'll do so again; it does not mean that he will necessarily sink to the depths of a Lieberman or a Zell Miller.  In ranking them on quality, he might be a 25th percentile Democratic Senator, which would make him a 60%th percentile Senator overall.  We just need to keep him off the Foreign Relations Committee.  That said, I'm glad that he's running and that he'll win.  He'll be a vote for Dick Durbin for Majority Leader someday.

I speak only for myself, not for those voices in the next room that won't leave me alone.

Foreign Relations Committee (0.00 / 0)
The problem with keeping Warner off Foreign Relations is that is probably the very committee that he wants to get on as well as Armed Services. That's if you think he wants to raise his national security profile for a future run for president.

[ Parent ]
All the more reason to keep him off Foreign Relations (0.00 / 0)
If he can't get on, he shouldn't complain; it's a popular assignment.  I feel less strongly about keeping him off of Armed Services.  Note that Webb is already on both, so it's hardly unfair to do this.

I speak only for myself, not for those voices in the next room that won't leave me alone.

[ Parent ]
Everyone's really taking this personally (4.00 / 2)
And I'm not sure why.  It's perfectly reasonable to warn against everyone getting excited about Mark Warner as some sort of savior. He's not.  Just like the vast majority of Democrats elected last year aren't and will never be.  Everybody keeps looking for superstars and everyone keeps coming back to blogs when people turn out to be imperfect.  No reason to welcome Mark Warner to the Senate as some sort of grand victory.  He'll be one of 100, better than the Republican alternatives but likely not a force by himself for major positive change in this country.  And there's nothing wrong with that.  In fact, I'm pleased that this Senate seat will be filled by such a person.

John McCain opposes the GI Bill.

You're dead wrong, Matt. (4.00 / 3)
Do us a favor and stay away from Virginia where we are making unbelievable progress for Democrats, and that means better education, assistance for the poor, more jobs, and less kookiness (there are a LOT of kooky Republicans here.  I've got Pat Robertson and Regent U. around the corner from me).

Mark Warner had to deal with a Republican Assembly and Senate.  He got them to RAISE TAXES, after he had skillfully trimmed the budget, while not touching vital social programs like Medicaid.  He got a lot done AND managed to get 97% of eligible kids healthcare.  When LIHEAP (federal program) would not give the poor extra help when energy prices went up, Warner freed up money (which he had, because he had balanced the budget and created a surplus) for poor Virginians so they wouldn't be left without heat in the winter.

Warner's message is, if anything, Obamaesque.  He's a guy who will get things done by talking in a conciliatory rhetoric while upholding liberal values we all hold dear.  Warner will be a perfect complement to Webb.  Webb sits on Armed Services and Foreign Relations.  Warner will show his expertise on Commerce or Finance.  He understands both how business works AND what it's like to be down and out (when he worked for the DNC in '80, he lived OUT OF HIS CAR).

Mark Warner left the governorship with 70% approval rating.  He is viewed as competent and sensible.  His views on the war will be fleshed out in the coming months, and I can assure you they will NOT be Liebermanesque.


Black and White View of the World (0.00 / 0)
Matt I used to really enjoy your posts but you are really starting to see the world in black and white and it is troubling.  The question to ask is  - do you want Mark Warner or do you want Tom Davis or Jim Gilmore?  That is basically your choice.  On most issues, Mark Warner is going to be much, much better.

Also outside of NOVA, Virginia is a pretty conservative state.  After all, it is the headquarters of both Pat Robertsons and the late Jerry Falwell's empires.  NOVA is starting to outvote the rest of the state but it is not by an overwhelming margin yet.

One other thing - what's up with not being able to say anything bad about Iran?  I strongly oppose starting a war with Iran but that is a lot different from thinking they are wondefully cuddly, nice actors on the world stage.  The fact of the matter is Iran is a country with a poor human rights record, treats women like crap and has a long history of funding terrorist organizations (there is a reason Reagan's henchmen went there to fund the Contras).  It legitimate to blast Bush's desire to start a war with Iran but I don't get all this criticism of  polticians/people who think Iran needs to be viewed warily.  The two are not the same.


You didn't reply to my first comment, but I still have more. (0.00 / 0)
"but he's going to be a bad Senator."

This isn't skepticism or predictions.  This is an opinion being disguised as a fact.  Please


Warner is a solid Democrat, but not Progressive (4.00 / 2)
As other commenters have stated, Mark Warner has helped rejuvenate a moribund Democratic Party in Virginia. More than that, he is a solid partisan Democrat when it comes to helping out other Democrats, but probably not when it comes to voting with them. He has relentlessly helped many Democrats with fundraising and campaigning. Without Mark Warner, Jim Webb would have had little money in his campaign war chest. Earlier this week, Mark hosted a fundraiser in Charlottesville for Dave Shreve, who is challenging Virgil Goode in VA-5. Shreve is a solid progressive and considered to be a long-shot candidate against Virgil "the Muslims are taking over" Goode. I'm thankful that Warner is helping Shreve out.

Mark Warner is a solid Democrat, but not a progressive. Progressive netroots activists looking for movement candidates should probably look elsewhere than Virginia in 2008.


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