Warner bows out of Virginia gubernatorial race

U.S. Sen. Mark Warner, who was a popular governor of Virginia from 2001-05, released a statement Tuesday saying that while the governorship of the Old Dominion was ???the best job I ever had,??? he had a different job he was focused on in the Senate. In his statement, centrist Democrat Warner also voiced optimism about securing a bipartisan budget deal that would keep the U.S. from the ???fiscal cliff.???

In terms of Virginia politics, the impact of Warner???s announcement was strong in both parties??? maneuvering for the governorship next year. With Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell termed out after one consecutive four year term, there had been growing nervousness within his party that a fight for succession between Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling and State Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli leave the GOP so divided it could not win the statehouse again.

With Warner out of the race, the worries about Bolling and Cuccinelli fighting so hard for nomination as to weaken Republican chances in the fall area are significantly down. The GOP nod for governor will be decided at a state convention in Richmond next summer.

The popular Warner had been considered a cinch for nomination, and polls showed him leading either Republican in match-ups. His exodus from the contest now leaves former Democratic National Chairman Terry McAuliffe, a close friend of Bill and Hillary Clinton, as the certain Democratic nominee.

Only one governor in the history of Virginia???the late Mills Godwin???served two non-consecutive terms in the statehouse, 1965-69 and 1973-77. Warner was better-than-even money to match Godwin???s achievement, but chose not to.