Free Lance-Star reporter Chelyen Davis covers Virginia government.
Warner out for 2013 governor’s race
Sen. Mark Warner has ended months of speculation about his future, announcing today that he will not run for governor next year.
“I loved being governor, but I have a different job now — and it’s here, in the United States Senate,” Warner said in a written statement. “I hope my value add in Congress is to continue working hard every day to not simply blame the other side, but to actually try to find common ground so we can get stuff done. At times, it’s been frustrating. But I believe this work is important for Virginia, and for our country, and I intend to see it through.”
Warner, a self-made multi-millionaire, was governor of Virginia from 2002 to 2006. Virginia law bars governors from serving a second consecutive term, but they can run again for a later term. Warner won one of Virginia’s two U.S. Senate seats in 2008.
It was no secret that Warner missed being governor — he joked in an AP story this past weekend about having been dragged out of the Governor’s Mansion with his fingernails clawing the floor. And it’s no secret he has found the slow pace of the Senate frustrating.
So when speculation arose in recent months that he might like to return to being Virginia’s top executive, Warner never said no. He said, instead, that he was focused on the 2012 elections. The night of those elections he told reporters he’d make an announcement before Thanksgiving.
In his statement, Warner said he had promised those who urged him to run that he would give it “serious, heartfelt consideration.”
“I’ve talked to a lot of Virginians I respect, and I’ve talked about it with my family,” Warner said. “But when I asked Virginians to hire me as their senator, I made a promise to come to Washington to try to be a problem solver. I have to admit, it’s been tougher than I expected. But I’ve tried to keep at it.”
In the Senate, Warner has made a name for himself as someone trying to bridge the partisan divide, particularly on fiscal issues. He is a member of the bipartisan “Gang of Six” trying to find solutions to the federal debt and deficit problems. When fellow Democrat Tim Kaine won Virginia’s other Senate seat two weeks ago, he told reporters that he hoped Warner would remain in the Senate because he was doing important work building bridges between different factions.
Warner mentioned his debt and deficit work in his statement Tuesday.
“I’m actually more optimistic by the day that we’ll be able to get it done,” he said. “But even if we avoid the fiscal cliff, we still have much more important work to do here in Washington: immigration reform, improvements to education. We still need a 21st century energy plan, and we still have a lot more work to do to strengthen the economic recovery. All of these issues will also require tough choices.”
Warner’s decision not to run clears the way for Democrat Terry McAuliffe. McAuliffe, who lost the party’s nomination for governor in 2009, had said for the past year that he planned to run again if Warner did not. On the day after the presidential election, he formalized that, notifying supporters that he was definitely in the race.
McAuliffe — so far the only Democrat running for governor — will face either Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling or Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli. The two Republicans are vying for the party’s nomination in a convention next spring.