Second in a four-part series
Mark Warner ran for the Senate in 2008 as a “radical centrist” who could get Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill to find common ground and work together.
The last three-plus years have been trying the patience of the Virginia Democrat. But Warner has hope – a glimmer, at least – that there is interest among the combatants on the Hill to rise above the partisan fray and maybe actually even get some things done.
“I think there really is. I think the number is bigger than 45. I can’t speak to the House, but I think it’s a majority of the Senate,” said Warner, who has been working with Republican Sens. Lamar Alexander and Lindsey Graham to organize a series of bipartisan dinners where the goal is to try to find a space where Democrats and Republicans can work together.
“I don’t think it means that everybody is going to be a moderate or a centrist. There are still going to be people who are progressive and conservative, but I think there’s even ways to say, OK, you want this, I want that, let’s both get 80 percent of what we want … and we can both vote for something,” Warner said.
A presidential election year would seem an interesting time to try to get something like this going, but Warner thinks it’s the perfect time.
“It’s a flip of the coin who’s going to control the Senate. I think the Democrats will eke out a victory, but it’s a flip of the coin. And there will be a lot of my colleagues who are so frustrated by the fact that non-controversial judges, that people who should have been appointed a year ago, are being held in limbo, that there will be, I’m afraid, payback,” said Warner, who feels the “jury is still out” as to how far the effort can go.
“The interest is there, but how do you crystallize that interest into specific action? And how do you make sure that you do it early enough so that regardless of what happens after the next election, we won’t be back in the same spot where we’re at right now?” Warner said.