| As we all know by now, the DSCC is heavily courting former Virginia Governor Mark Warner to run for the U.S. Senate in 2008--and, remarkably, Warner is not ruling it out, even if longtime incumbent John Warner decides not to retire.
What this creates is a possible dream scenario in Virginia: John Warner, having survived a close call by a self-funding Mark Warner in 1996, had a difficult enough time beating back a challenge against a political unknown, winning by only 5 points. At the time, the elder Warner remarked: "It was tough - a tough two years." The conventional wisdom is that John Warner, who will be 81 in 2008, would not mind another term in the Senate--he just doesn't want to campaign for it.
So, Mark Warner enters the race. John Warner gets the spooks and announces an early retirement, making way for his preferred successor: 11th district Rep. Tom Davis (R). In fact, the WaPo has already indicated that Warner has signaled Davis to get ready:
However, some doubt John Warner's commitment to run. One Republican active in Virginia politics said that Warner has told U.S. Rep. Thomas M. Davis III (R-Va.) to prepare to run if the senator decides against another bid. "Davis is actively calling people and is saying on the calls that he has been told by Warner to get ready," the source said.
Davis would be a pretty strong candidate for the Republicans: he currently represents one of their weaker areas of the state--the rapidly diversifying D.C. suburbs in Prince William and Fairfax counties. This is the one region that has been nudging Virginia closer and closer to the left. Take a look at the district's chronolgy:
2004: John Kerry wins 49.29% of the district's vote to George Bush's 49.92%
2005: Tim Kaine (D) wins 55.67% of the vote to Jerry Kilgore's 42.42%
2006: Jim Webb (D) wins 54.69% of the vote to George Allen's 44.20%
So Davis could be strong statewide against an average Virginia Democrat, but he wouldn't stand a chance against Mark Warner, who retired with a mind-boggling 80% approval rate. And with the recent robust victories of Tim Kaine and Jim Webb in the 11th, Democrats would clearly be well-poised to capture this open seat with a strong candidate. Any idea who we'd run for it?
Man oh man, what a glorious twofer it would be: a pick-up in both the Senate and House--both of which will be badly-needed to protect and expand the Democratic majorities. If Chuck Schumer pulls this off (and he has had some stellar success in the past in this area--see Missouri, 2006), he could very well be elevated to demigod status.
Race Tracker: VA-Sen | VA-11