Peering into Mark Warner’s political future

The Odd Dominion

Mark Warner on the campaign trail. File photo Mark Warner on the campaign trail. File photo

O.K., we’re going to go ahead and call it right now: Come November, Barack Obama is going to win Virginia, and with it the presidency, and Tim Kaine is going to ride his coattails into the U.S. Senate. How can we be so sure, you ask? Well, we could easily quote a raft of new polls that show both President Obama and Tim Kaine moving into a decisive lead in their respective races. We could also talk about how the current electoral college math is so daunting for the Republicans that a Mitt Romney victory would represent one of the most unprecedented political triple bankshots in American history.

But really, what it comes down to is this: Mitt Romney has run one of the most laughably inept campaigns in recent memory, and the criminal incompetence of his organization is almost certainly going to negatively impact downballot candidates (like, say, Republican senate hopeful George Allen) who might otherwise eke out a victory. (Which would explain why the New York Times’ well-respected political blog Five Thirty Eight recently calculated that Kaine has “roughly a 75 percent chance of winning the seat.”)

So now that we’re done obsessing about November, it’s time to move on to obsessing about 2013! That’s right: Believe it or not, all electoral activity will not cease on November 7, no matter how much you might wish it so. With that in mind, we’ve been poking around the margins, trying to figure out what some of Virginia’s most interesting pols are really up to.

First on our list is U.S. Senator Mark Warner, who has been keeping a relatively low profile as of late. Now, it’s no secret that Warner has found his day job more than a little frustrating. As a self-described “radical centrist” in a highly partisan congress, Warner has consistently had his ideas tabled or shot down entirely. (Anyone remember the “Gang of Six”? Yeah, we didn’t think so.) Now, the persistent rumor as of late is that Warner is eying a late entry into the Virginia governor’s race. (When recently asked by the Washington Post about this possibility, Warner pointedly said “I’m not going to quell anything.”)

With a recent Post poll showing him in a very strong position should he choose to run for governor again, one has to imagine that he’s tempted—especially since running for president (something Warner almost certainly wants to do) as a sitting governor is much better, historically, than running as a senator.

So if Warner decides to run for governor and wins, what happens to his senate seat? We’re glad you asked, since that brings us to another of our favorite rumors. Since Virginia governors are empowered to appoint replacements to fill a vacant senate seat, a newly elected Governor Warner would be given the unique opportunity to fill his own seat. And just who might he appoint?

Well, if you listen to the particularly fervid fever dreams of Virginia’s left-leaning gossipmongers, the nod would go to none other than Charlottesville’s own Tom Perriello, an Obama administration favorite who has been out of a job since he lost his U.S. House seat in 2010.

Is any of this remotely likely? As always, we have no idea. But it’s a hell of a lot more fun to engage in rampant 2013 speculation than to watch yet another painful, gaffe-filled Mitt Romney campaign event. Trust us.

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