Webb tired of being in Warner’s shadow

Story by Chris Graham

Count me as being among those in the Virginia punditry who thinks that the main reason the Commonwealth is in play politically these days is because of Mark Warner.

That having been established as a baseline, I’ve been interested, to say the least, at the thought of what people like Tim Kaine and Jim Webb have to say about all that right there.

You know, because I’d be a little put off by the idea that the only reason that I’m the governor or the only reason that I’m the senator is because people really like this other guy who blessed me with his popularity.

Make that more than a little put off.

I don’t know how Tim Kaine feels on this subject, but I have something of a feeling as to how Jim Webb feels.

This came to my attention on Saturday at the Washington and Lee University Mock Democratic Party Convention. After speaking to students at the convention, Webb engaged in a question-and-answer session with reporters and professors afterward.

Toward the end of the Q-and-A, a W&L professor asked Webb a question along the lines of, What do Virginia Democrats need to do to run better outside of Northern Virginia?

A fair question, I thought – and still think. And Webb gave some time for his answer, showing that he agreed.

“The thought that really pushed me over was this issue going back to economic fairness and the breakdown of working people in this country- what happened to the Reagan Democrats? I basically was a Reagan Democrat. I think I can safely say I’m the only person elected to statewide office in Virginia with a union card, two Purple Hearts and three tattoos,” Webb said, eliciting laughter from those in the press room.

“And so the test, and I said so, the day that I announced, was, Can you bring these people who went over to the Republican Party basically on national-security issues, but were never fully comfortable on issues of economic fairness and worker rights, can you bring them back? I think we’ve done a good job on that over my first year here in office – and I think we can do more,” Webb said.

He continued on, before the professor who had asked the original question interrupted with a followup.

“That sounds like Mark Warner’s strategy,” he interjected.

Here was where we see how Webb might have heard just about enough of that kind of talk.

“I … I haven’t heard Mark Warner’s strategy,” Webb said. “But … I bring a total different background than Mark Warner does to these issues. And I’ve been writing about this for a long time.”

He went on to say that “I think Mark Warner – Mark Warner is a very safe bet for November. It doesn’t look like he’s going to have a significant opponent. So I think Mark’s going to be with us very soon.”

And that was that. A reporter asked a question on an unrelated topic, and Webb prepared to answer before diverting and looking back to the professor.

“Just to finish that point … I didn’t know Mark Warner when I was saying this, either. So … I didn’t know anybody in his campaigns,” he said.

Yeah. He’s tired of being in the shadow. No question about it.

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