Clash of the titans

Clash of the titans

As many irate readers of this column have pointed out, after two months on the job, we’ve had very few kind words for politicians of any stripe, and have been particularly vicious toward pols of the Republican persuasion. And so, to help even the scales, we here at Odd Dominion would like to take this opportunity to reveal a shocking secret: We love Senator John Warner. We love him because he’s spent his entire career as an elected representative pissing off the most reactionary members of both parties, and is one of the few old-school Washington insiders (37 years and counting!) who still appears to possess both a conscience and the occasional will to act on it. And, as if that wasn’t impressive enough, he also survived a trio of events that would have felled any ordinary man: WWII, the Nixon Administration and six years of marriage to Elizabeth Taylor.

Will the nastiness of the George Allen/Jim Webb free-for-all last November deter Senator John Warner from running for a sixth term?

And so it’s with decidedly mixed emotions that we’ve been tracking the recent will-he-or-won’t-he rumors claiming that former Democratic governor (and one-time presidential hopeful) Mark Warner might jump into the 2008 senate fray. The most intriguing account to date ran February 28 in The Washington Post, and quoted multiple anonymous sources as saying that Mark Warner “is being courted by national Democrats to run” and “is seriously considering the 2008 challenge.”

This would, of course, set up a replay of the two Warners’ mega-confusing 1996 senate battle, which ended with political newcomer Mark falling by five percentage points to congressional champion John.

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This time out, however, Mark Warner has a ton of experience under his belt (and a much higher profile), and so the contest would be far more evenly matched. But the real question for the former governor is this: How bad does he want it? He did, after all, bow out of the presidential race (after raising expectations, and tons of cash, with his “Forward Together” Political Action Committee) in a most curious and unsatisfying fashion. And really, will the man’s stated desire “to have a real life” jibe with the rigors of a Senate campaign?

To complicate matters even further, there’s the looming “pick me!” Democratic vice presidential sweepstakes. Declaring for the ’08 Senate race would, perforce, make Warner ineligible for the job that many believe he wants most of all.

But, in the end, the deciding factor might just be whether John Warner decides to run for a record-breaking sixth term. Although the 80-year-old incumbent is quoted defiantly in the Post article (“I welcome any contender that wants to come… I fear no one.”), a January article in the American Spectator hints that Senator Warner was spooked by the nastiness of the George Allen/Jim Webb free-for-all last November. (“It isn’t that Allen lost, it’s how he lost,” a Republican political consultant told the magazine. “Warner has to look at all that and wonder if it’s worth that kind of fight.”)

Of course, if Virginia’s old senatorial warhorse should bow out, it’s Katie bar the door! Potential Republican contenders waiting in the wings include U.S. Representative Tom Davis (who, a source told the Post, “is actively calling people and is saying on the calls that he has been told by [John] Warner to get ready”) and—God help us all—ex-Senator Allen, who (according to the Washington Times) recently hosted a private dinner to discuss whether to seek the Senate seat, should it become vacant.

The return of Senator Macaca? Sorry, John, but that clinches it—you’re a great guy, but our love of political theater trumps all. Bring on the players, we say, and let the best (or least mistake-prone) man win!