Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Candidate Profile Twenty: Mark Warner

Virginia Governor Mark Warner's probable campaign pitch is not difficult to predict; he will in all likelihood tout his credentials as a fiscally responsible Democrat who understands that capitalism is not the root of all evil, and try to win more moderates than the progressives he will alienate. Can it work? Maybe...

Mark Robert Warner - official bio page
Draft Mark Warner 2008 website

Resume: co-founder of Nextel; Governor of Virginia; Harvard Law grad; chairman of the National and Southern Governors Associations

Here's Wikipedia on Warner:
His business experience, Southern base, fundraising connections within high-tech and venture capital circles, and record of working with black leaders add up to an attractive political resume, though only having served one term as an elected official so far may be considered too little experience to move up to President - the same point was raised about John Edwards' one Senate term.
Now Howard Fineman:

Warner's theory (claim) is that he has cross-over appeal to what are, or have become GOP constituencies. He has some evidence to back him up, from his campaign, and from a major legislative victory in Richmond. He reached rural voters in 2001 by signaling his respect for cultural touchstones such as NASCAR, and by promising to bring broadband and the other engines of the digital economy to the countryside.

Faced with a big budget deficit, he enlisted corporate business types to support a tax increase -- and got the Republican-led legislative to approve it.

He has positioned himself as a centrist on social issues, which may be right where "country club Republicans" are: wary of too much emphasis on gay-rights or women's rights, but essentially tolerant people.

Certainly, it would be refreshing to see a Democratic candidate who eschewed phoney-baloney populism of the John Edwards/Jim Hightower sort, and acknowledged that capitalism is, in fact, a blessing rather than a curse. At this point, it is, of course, my solemn duty to inform you that a moderate of this type cannot make it past the primaries.

Is that conventional wisdom, repeated here as well as elsewhere, really valid, though? After all, John Kerry was the nominee, and not Howard Dean; and let's not forget George W. Bush was the 'compassionate conservative' in his 2000 bid. Then you had Clinton, and George 41. Maybe the moderates CAN and do make it out of the primaries.

Well, yes and no. The real problem with being a moderate is making it to at least New Hampshire, when moderation ceases to be such a vice (forget Iowa, with its 'caucus' malarkey; I'm talking about real primaries, where real people vote). Mark Warner won't make good copy in a race with Hillary in it; nor is he likely to inspire fervant followers in the mode of the Deaniacs. And it's also very true that a Senate race might be more winnable for a man of his age and relative (political) inexperience.

Still, I'm not prepared to write Warner off. He has big-money high-tech contacts, and of course, he is a Southern governor, the most electable of political animals (though he won't be in 2008, since Virginia's governors are limited to one term). As always, so much rides on Hillary - if she has a full head of steam, but starts making Dems nervous as 'unelectable', in the mode of Howard Dean, folks may well be casting about for an alternative, and in that scenario, why not Warner?


UPDATE 1:44 p.m. central:
Commonwealth Conservative, the source for Virginia political news as far as I am concerned, kindly links to this post and has an A.P. story that I missed from yesterday that has Warner blasting John Kerry for his rigid party orthodoxy...jeez, I'm starting to like the guy...if he keeps talking like that, I might even vote for him...

UPDATE 07/04/05 11:01 p.m. central: Warner is looking better to me all the time, and right now has the best shot at dethroning Hillary.


No comments: