While we wait for the probable resignation of Idaho Republican Senator Larry Craig, Virginia’s John Warner just announced (see video) that he will not seek another term in 2008. The 80-year old Warner is now the second-longest serving US senator.
Warner’s announcement opens up a seat that may determine the Senate balance in 2009 and is susceptible of a presidential candidate "coattails" effect. Former Governor Jim Gilmore — a solid conservative — and Cong. Tom Davis, a more liberal Republican, will both almost certainly run for this seat.
I spoke a few minutes ago to Gov. Gilmore, who was effusive in his praise for Warner. He said that Warner had been a, "…terrific leader on military and national security issues," and that, "we are very proud of him." Gilmore spoke about the fact that the much-maligned Woodrow Wilson Bridge – which carries the Washington Beltway over the eastern Potomac and into Maryland — was a shambles when he became governor. There was no money appropriated to rebuild it. Gilmore recalled going to Washington to visit with Sen. Warner with whom Gilmore worked very well together to get the funds to rebuild the bridge.
Gilmore declined to speculate if he would pursue the John Warner Senate seat. If he does, Gilmore may be running against another Warner who is also a former Virginia governor. Democrat Mark Warner is a likely candidate who could make a strong run, being more moderate (and much more cool-headed) than soon-to-be senior senator Jim Webb.
A Gilmore – Warner race would be the focus of national attention, even overshadowing (on occasion) the presidential race because the Red vs. Blue issue in Virginia could be indicative of how other states may tilt in the presidential race. Stay tuned.