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With the announcement today that Sen. John Warner (R.-VA) will make his ’08 political plans official at the University of Virginia, betting is overwhelming that the 80-year-old senator will say he’s leaving.

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Warner Says Bye Today?

With the announcement today that Sen. John Warner (R.-VA) will make his ’08 political plans official at the University of Virginia, betting is overwhelming that the 80-year-old senator will say he’s leaving.

With the announcement today that Sen. John Warner (R.-VA) will make his ’08 political plans official in an afternoon address at the University of Virginia (where he earned his law degree more than a half-century ago), betting is overwhelming that the 80-year-old senator will say he’s leaving.

Warner, whose 30 years in the Senate is a record for the Old Dominion, has raised no money for a re-election bid and has seen two top aides that he reportedly depended closely on leave his office for other ventures. The senator was most recently in the news with his call last week for a withdrawl of U.S. troops from Iraq.

Should Warner say he’s leaving, the long-anticipated nomination battle between seven-term Rep. Tom Davis of Northern Virginia and former Gov. Jim Gilmore of Richmond will be upon Old Dominion GOPers. Former Democratic Gov. Mark Warner, who explored and then opted against a race for president, is reportedly now poised to announce his candidacy if John Warner (no relation) goes. In 1996, Mark won an impressive 46% of the vote against John in what has been the Republican Warner’s closest race since first winning the Senate seat in a cliff-hanger in 1978.

Davis, whose cultivation of federal employees (who are populous in his districts) and pro-abortion stand have made him suspect among many conservatives, is nonetheless a master campaigner with more than $1 million in his kitty. Davis has freely dispensed campaign cash to local candidates far to his right, notably Prince William County Supervisor John Stirrup, father of the tough anti-illegal immigration measure that has put his county on the political map. In addition, there has been not-so-subtle suggestions Davis will have the backing of John Warner, as Davis’s longtime closest political advisor John Hishta is a past Warner campaign manager.

Stalwart conservative Jim Gilmore, who abandoned the GOP presidential field because of difficulties raising money, has reportedly been planning a Senate bid in the event Warner quits. Sources close to the former governor, who is also a former state attorney general and county prosecutor, tell me he has polls showing him beating Davis by as much as 2-to-1 statewide.

In addition, under a unique Virginia law, the incumbent office-holder gets to choose the avenue for nomination — primary or state convention. A convention is thought to vastly enhance Gilmore in a race against Davis, as conventioneers tend to be more conservative. Without an incumbent running, h however, the state GOP executive committee will decide later this year whether the Senate nominee is picked in a convention or primary.

“The odds are probably 55-to-45 it will be a convention now, but that could change,” one old Virginia GOP hand told me over lunch two weeks ago.

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John Gizzi has come to be known as â??the man who knows everyone in Washingtonâ? and, indeed, many of those who hold elected positions and in party leadership roles throughout the United States. With his daily access to the White House as a correspondent, Mr. Gizzi offers readers the inside scoop on whatâ??s going on in the nationâ??s capital. He is the author of a number of popular Human Events features, such as â??Gizzi on Politicsâ? and spotlights of key political races around the country. Gizzi also is the host of â??Gizziâ??s America,â? video interviews that appear on HumanEvents.com. Gizzi got his start at Human Events in 1979 after graduating from Fairfield University in Connecticut and then working for the Travis County (Tex.) Tax Assessor. He has appeared on hundreds of radio and TV shows, including Fox News Channel, C-SPAN, America's Voice,The Jim Bohannon Show, Fox 5, WUSA 9, America's Radio News Network and is also a frequent contributor to the BBC -- and has appeared on France24 TV and German Radio. He is a past president of the Georgetown Kiwanis Club, past member of the St. Matthew's Cathedral's Parish Council, and secretary of the West End Friends of the Library. He is a recipient of the William A. Rusher Award for Journalistic Excellence and was named Journalist of the Year by the Conservative Political Action Conference in 2002. John Gizzi is also a credentialed correspondent at the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. He has questioned two IMF managing directors, Dominique Strauss-Kahn and Christine LaGarde, and has become friends with international correspondents worldwide. Johnâ??s email is JGizzi@EaglePub.Com

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