Reminder: No, Mark Warner isn’t a presidential contender

mark warnerMark Warner had said in the wake of the 2016 presidential election that he was not interested in mounting a run at the White House in 2020, preferring to focus on his work in the U.S. Senate.

His work in the Senate has been a bit more high-profile than he may have assumed at the time, though, with Warner basically the Democratic face of the Senate investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election as the vice chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Hardly a week goes by that Warner isn’t out front on a cable or Sunday-morning news show, often enough to make you think, maybe …

But then you look at the news headlines on Tuesday, and you remind yourself, nah.

The latest hint came with Warner announcing his support for the approval of Gina Haspel to be CIA director. Yeah, that Gina Haspel, the one all caught up in the torture debacle from the ‘aughts, who was essentially nominated to the CIA post by President Trump as a thumb in the nose and rake of the eyes of Democrats and our allies in NATO.

You don’t do that if you’re Warner if you have a sliver of thought that you’re going to run for the White House in 2020, as a Democrat, anyway.

The nomination process is going to lean decidedly left-of-center in 2020, obviously, so it would have been an uphill climb for the self-styled radical centrist, all other things being equal.

This move by Warner, I have to admit, has me wondering if he might not face a primary challenge from the left if he were to run for re-election to his Senate seat, which also comes up in the 2020 cycle.

Warner has a reputation for being a bit insulated from political challenge because he has historically enjoyed strong bipartisan support and off-the-charts job-approval ratings, but despite solid numbers on job performance in 2014, he had to sweat out a narrow victory over Ed Gillespie in a much-tougher-than-expected re-election battle, defeating Gillespie by eight-tenths of a percentage point.

When you remember that Gillespie then lost the 2017 governor’s race to Ralph Northam by nine points, you see that maybe Warner isn’t as Teflon as he had seemed.

Column by Chris Graham


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