Former Virginia Governor Mark Warner seems to have the perfect political storm building for the 2008 presidential election. Term limited by Virginia law to four years as governor, Warner now has time to build up political support, rally moderates and independents to the party in the 2006 midterm elections, and put together his campaign team for the 2008 presidential election. Considered by many party insiders to be a favorite for the Democratic nomination, Warner’s gubernatorial turn in Republican Virginia would seem to give him the experience to bridge gaps and succeed in a hostile environment. His business savvy in the private sector and his connection to Beltway donors would seem to give him the funding needed to assuage concerns by Democratic leaders about his efficacy as a candidate. At the very least, Warner seems like he has executive grade makeup that would allow him to succeed as president or vice president.
Mark Warner was born December 15, 1954, in Indianapolis, Indiana. Warner attended George Washington University, where he graduated in 1977, followed by a law degree from Harvard in 1980. Warner dipped his toes in politics as a staffer for Connecticut Senator Christopher Dodd and went on to make a significant amount of money in the telecommunications market. Warner co-founded cellular phone company Nextel and accumulated $200 million from his various investments. In 2001, after years of building up support from moderates and conservative Democrats, he was successful in winning the gubernatorial race in Virginia. His administration included a drastic increase in government efficiency, according to the Pew Charitable Trust, and a commitment to public education and health care. He was able to usher in a new age for Democrats in the 2003 and 2005 local and state elections, including helping his successor Tim Kaine take over as governor in a hotly contested election in 2005. Following his term limited governorship, Warner has remained active in national politics. He has declined to run against George Allen in 2006 for the United States Senate and has become involved in the Forward Together Political Action Committee (PAC), which has raised over ten million dollars since the end of 2005. All of these signs point toward a candidacy and a presidential campaign organization that may be one of the most sophisticated in decades.
Warner has spoken in primary states New Hampshire and Iowa, as well as building up a war chest for his PAC to work on issues of health care and public education. His relative inexperience in politics, with only one term as governor, may dissuade some Democrats (who want a “sure thing” in 2008) from nominating him at the top of the ticket. As well, the experience of putting fellow Democratic star John Edwards in the vice president spot in 2004, and possibly ending his national career, may make the delegates to the 2008 Democratic convention less likely to put him on the ballot. However, his war chest, his strong personality, and his genial approach to politics may make him a solid candidate for Democrats who are looking for a more stable campaign than in the past.