Early this year, the political world was rocked when little known college professor Dave Brat crushed Republican Majority Leader Eric Cantor in Virginia’s 7th district GOP primary. In the weeks before Brat’s major establishment upset, polls had Cantor winning by a 10+ point margin. Yet, on election day Brat beat the incumbent by 12 points.
The race for Virginia’s senior Senate seat may provide another upset in this November’s general election.
Democrat incumbent Mark Warner is using this election to propel himself for a run at the Democrat nomination for President in 2016.
After taking a job out of law school as a fundraiser for the Democratic National Committee, Warner started ventures in energy and real estate, but really hit it big in telecommunications. He convinced some investors to help him purchase cellular telephone licenses the government was selling for a relative song in the early 1980’s and then staked a big and early claim in Nextel, which soon blossomed into one of the biggest wireless service providers. It was swallowed by Sprint Corp. a decade ago, by which point Warner had been state party chairman, staged one closer-than-expected bid for the Senate, had been elected governor and was being touted as a prime presidential prospect. Instead, he cruised into the Senate six years ago on a “radical centrist” platform and is the clear but not quite prohibitive favorite to win his second term this fall. — RollCall
Sen. Warner is the 5th wealthiest member of Congress who is worth a whopping $95 million. Although he promotes himself as a centrist, Mark Warner has voted with the Obama administrations agenda 97% of the time while serving as Virginia’s senior Senator for the past six years. The Senator has proven he doesn’t care about Virginians– he simply care about one thing, and one thing only: Becoming POTUS.
On August 10, 2009 when Warner was stumping for the passage Obamacare, he told a crowd of supporters in Virginia, “Let me make clear, I’m not going to support a health care reform plan that’s going to take away health care that you’ve got right now or a health care plan that you like.” Just months later in December 2009, Sen. Warner voted in support of Obamacare.
After numerous delays, Obamacare finally made its glorious debut October 1, 2013 and Warner’s promise to not support legislation that would take away existing plans became yet another broken promise– a promise that would become Politifact’s 2013 Lie of the Year. In the month since, hundreds of thousands of Virginian’s have lost their healthcare plan because of Obamacare.
On the other side of the isle, Republican candidate Ed Gillespie has made a lot of headway since securing the GOP nomination at the state party convention back in May. Gillespie is a former RNC Chairman who worked with the George W. Bush administration and the Mitt Romney 2012 presidential campaign. At the start, Gillespie was polling 29 point behind Warner and political analyst Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball predicted a win for Warner was “safe.” Over the past few months, Gillespie has closed the gap to a mere 9 point lead for Warner and Crystal Ball has changed the Virginia Senate election to “likely D.”
Recent developments of Sen. Warner’s involvement in a scandal involving Democrat’s trying to bribe former state Senator Phillip P. Pucket from retiring amid a big Medicare expansion vote has thrown a big wrench in Warner’s corner. Although the Liberal media is trying to diminish his involvement and brush it off as nothing (which it clearly isn’t– the FBI is running an investigation), Virginian’s aren’t happy.
Gillespie has used this news to his advantage which has allowed him to obliterate Warner in two recent debates. The Washington Post took note of this in a recent article titled “Mark Warner’s debate from hell” by Jennifer Rubin.
Let’s get this straight: A U.S. senator calls up the child of a state senator on the verge of a critical decision as to whether resign from the senate (and thereby shift control to the Republicans) right around the same time the Democratic governor’s chief of staff Paul Reagan also left a message about a potential state job for the state senator’s daughter. (Unlike Warner, Reagan has since apologized.) So many important people playing career guidance counselor to the same state senator’s children — odd, isn’t it? Really, voters can tell when pols are trying to evade blame for misbehaving, and this sure seemed like just such an episode.
Frankly, Warner seemed ill at ease and frustrated that the pesky issue of corruption had popped up on his stroll to re-election. Gillespie did not overplay his hand, abiding by the rule that you never interfere with an opponent in the midst of self-destructing. (Afterwards Gillespie told reporters, “The senator did not respond to the questions that I think are out there. This brainstorming session, was that just a coincidence that came at the same time as the call from the governor’s chief of staff. I’ll leave that for others to decide, but I do find it deeply troubling.”)
With the November 4th election less than three weeks away, only time will tell if Gillespie has what it takes to cause yet another political shockwave in the Commonwealth.
Follow Julia Porterfield on Twitter @JK_Porterfield.