Virginia Senator John Warner, the second-longest serving member of the United State Senate, announced today that he will not seek a sixth term. He made the announcement in front of the Rotunda on the Grounds of UVA, where he received a law degree in 1953.
Surrounded by students and television cameras, Warner said that his service in the Senate will “come to a conclusion on the first Tuesday of the new Congress.” His announcement thrusts another Warner into the political spotlight, former Virginia governor Mark Warner (no relation), who has been eyeing a run for the older Warner’s Senate seat.
The younger Warner, a Democrat, lost to John Warner in a close Senate race. The possibility of a Democrat taking Warner’s seat in the next elections hurts Republican chances at winning control of the Senate, which they lost in 2006.
After brief remarks, Warner answered questions from the press. Many focused on the war in Iraq. Warner, a staunch supporter of the military, recently called for a troop reduction in Iraq by next Christmas, a sharp break in policy from President George Bush. Warner, a World War II and Korean War veteran, called Iraq “the most complex series of problems I’ve ever seen in my life.”
After speaking, Warner walked into the crowd of students that had gathered to his right. Shaking hands and sporting a wide grin, he said “Goodbye, all!”
But before walking away for good, he bent down to shake a small boy’s hand. The child, suddenly in the Senator’s gaze, shyly lowered his head. “Always look a politician in the eye,” said Warner, still pumping the child’s hand. “Don’t ever take your eye off him.”
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