Chris Graham: The Mark Warner Fallout

It’s time to examine the impacts on various Virginia political players from the news this week that U.S. Sen. Mark Warner will not mount a campaign to run for governor in 2013.

Mark Warner: Starting at the top, Warner has been talked about as a possible Obama second-term Cabinet appointee. His comments in explaining his decision against a run for governor would seem to indicate that Warner is also not thinking of making a move from the Senate to the executive branch. His eyes seem focused on a run for re-election in 2014. Could a run for the White House in 2016 also be in the offing? That’s where the next Mark Warner speculation should shift.

Tim Kaine: He remains Virginia’s junior senator. Which means a lot of gavel-banging is forthcoming. (Warner has probably already made that point clear to his former and soon-to-be-again junior partner.)

Bob McDonnell: He finishes up his term as governor in January 2014, and gears up for an ultimately futile run for the White House in 2016. He has better sense than to waste his popularity on an ill-fated run at Warner in 2014. After his aborted 2016 presidential bid, he challenges Kaine for the Senate seat in 2018.

Ken Cuccinelli/Bill Bolling: The race is back on. It’s possible that Cuccinelli would have considered stepping aside to let Bolling take the expected pounding from Warner in a 2013 governor’s race. With Terry McAuliffe the only obstacle between either and four years in the governor’s mansion, expect a bloody battle between the sitting lieutenant governor and attorney general to unfold forthwith.

Terry McAuliffe: He knew before we did what Warner’s plans were, having announced his candidacy for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination last week. That he did so before Warner made his intentions formal could be a source of friction between the two. McAuliffe seemed to want to make it clear that he wasn’t waiting for Warner’s blessing, but Warner’s blessing would seem to be a boost given how well Warner was running in the polls against Bolling and Cuccinelli, and how McAuliffe is running neck-and-neck with both Republicans. A kiss of the pinkie ring probably wouldn’t hurt.

Down-ticket Democrats: Mark Warner at the top of the ticket likely carries at least one and maybe both of his state-ticket mates across the finish line with him, and makes it more attractive for potential Democratic challengers in House of Delegates races across the Commonwealth. Mark Warner not at the top of the ticket makes it hard for the low-name-recognition state-ticket candidates running alongside McAuliffe to get traction, and likely pushes attractive Democratic challengers in House races to remain on the sidelines.

Chris Graham: Chris can hold off on sending the pathetic “I want to come to work for you” email to Warner that he’d planned on sending this week until the first quarter of 2015. In either scenario, Warner was bound to wisely say thanks, but no, meaning either way Chris was bound to continue making a surprisingly good living designing, marketing and occasionally pontificating. At least he is able to maintain his dignity somewhat intact for another year and a half.

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