Those who would prefer a Warner run for governor express a fear of a George F. Allen comeback. Such a comeback is doubtful for many reasons, the most potent of which is a gentleman by the name of Bob McDonnell. But I'm not writing about George Allen's future tonight--I'm writing about Mark Warner. There are several reasons why Warner should run for the U.S. Senate rather than another term as Virginia's governor.
Virginia's U.S. Senators are arguably more powerful than her term limited governor. Virginia's governors may not serve consecutive terms and basically enter their office as lame ducks. Virginia's U.S. Senators serve a theoretically unlimited number of six-year terms and preside over a giant slice of our nation's defense budget. Together, Warner and Webb would be tremendously influential in any Congress, but most especially in a Democratically controlled Congress serving under a Democratic President. Controlling both Senate seats would provide Virginia's Democrats with the political "high ground" in every single election in Virginia. More about this in a moment.
Another consideration relates to the tactical situation in Virginia's political scene. A Warner run for the Senate would deliver, barring some unforeseen event, an easy statewide win for Virginia's Democrats. In any human endeavour momentum is a key factor: a Warner win in 2008 would extend the streak of top-of-the-ticket statewide Democratic wins that Warner himself started in 2001. A Warner win will further cement into place Virginia's formidable Democratic grassroots/netroots organization, while having a corresponding demoralizing effect on our Republican rivals. Should George Allen be foolish enough to attempt a comeback in 2009, he will find his own party in tatters and a Democratic Party united by eight years of electoral victories. But again, I digress. What I would like to talk about next is the practical impact of a Warner Senate run (and victory) in 2008 on future races: I call it the "Flying Wedge."
I saw the first signs pointing to the formation of a Democratic "Flying Wedge" in 2005, and then saw it truly come into being in 2006, with the candidacy of Jim Webb. What I mean by that term is the kind of excitement that is created when an energized, excited political party can produce a line of popular elected officials to endorse its candidates for political office.
Here's what a Democratic Flying Wedge looks like:
The Flying Wedge is a tactic that Virginia's Republicans haven't been able to fully exploit due to powerful divisions within their party. Most Republicans despised John Warner for his centrism. Most of their other statewide political figures are, to one extent or another, in disgrace. Kilgore for his drubbing at the hands of Kaine. Gilmore for his budget disaster and failed tenure at the RNC. Who can forget Allen's clumsy, failed run for re-election last year? Allen's campaign is considered by most political experts to have been the worst run campaign of 2006. And then there is President George W. Bush, a man who's endorsement would be a political kiss of death to any Republican rash enough to accept it. The Republican Party of Virginia simply cannot assemble a tableau of talent and success like the one shown above. In 2009, these Democrats will be able to stand behind our party's nominee for governor and give that person a huge boost. It is very likely that they will be joined frequently by a newly elected Democratic President of the United States, living just across the Potomac within easy chopper ride of Virginia's governor's election.
If that isn't enough to sweeten the pot for you, then consider this: Warner's removal from the pool of Vice Presidential candidates would free up a place for that perennial favorite of Virginia Democrats: Wes Clark. Read Clark's resume: he would make a much better "ticket balancer" now, in a time of war, than even the popular Mark Warner. And Warner's presence on the Democratic ticket as a Senate candidate would still have the likely effect of delivering the state to the Democratic Party's presidential candidate for the first time since 1964 (prediction void where Hillary Clinton is the Democratic presidential candidate).
So buck up my friends: when Senator Jim Webb, Senator Mark Warner, Governor Tim Kaine, Governor/Mayor Doug Wilder, and all the other talented Democratic electeds unite behind our candidate for governor in 2009, they will push him (or her) over the top. Put me down in favor of:
Mark Warner for Senate 2008!