Pros and Cons: Mark Warner as Obama’s Running Mate

ImageAfter appearing at an event with Barack Obama last week, current Senate candidate, and former Virginia Governor Mark Warner has picked up a lot of buzz as a potential running mate for Obama. In this edition of Pros and Cons, we’ll take a look at a potential Obama/ Warner ticket.

Resume : Before he launched his 2008 Senate campaign, from 2002-2006 he was one of the most popular governors in modern Virginia history. He began his political career, in the early 1980s as a staffer for Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT). In the private sector Warner was able to use his knowledge of federal telecommunications laws to build a fortune, by getting in early on cell phone franchise licensing. As managing director of Columbia Capital Corp, he either invested in or founded several tech companies. He was an early investor in Nextel and founded Capital Cellular Corp.

Warner ran Douglas Wilder’s successful 1989 campaign for governor. He first became known nationally when he ran for Senate, and lost to John Warner in 1996. In 2001, he ran for governor and won. He is a moderate Democrat who was able to work with Republicans and the business community to reform the tax code. This allowed him to make the single largest investment in the state’s history in K-12 education.

He was able to create a business friendly environment without passing the tax burden on to the citizens. This lead to numerous publications ranking him as one of the best governors in the nation, and because of Virginia’s non-consecutive term limit law, Warner left office with an 80% approval rating. He was convinced to run for Senate again, for the now retiring John Warner’s seat, and has been holding a comfortable 20 point lead against former Gov. Jim Gilmore.

Pros to picking Warner : The selection of Warner would likely ensure that Barack Obama would carry Virginia. Warner shares Obama’s forward looking mindset and age 54 fits right in with his message of change. Sources say that even though Warner is running for Senate, he probably would not turn down a chance to be on the ticket.

Warner has a history of running strong with rural voters, and his more moderate views would help balance Obama out. Adding a white Southerner to the ticket could put states like North Carolina and Georgia, where Obama has rock solid African American support, into play for the Democrats in the fall. As a former governor, Warner has the executive experience that Obama lacks. In an election where the economy is becoming the central issue, Warner’s success in Virginia could be a huge asset.

Cons to picking Warner : Warner does have limited political experience. He has only served that one term as Virginia governor. He also has zero foreign policy experience. If the Obama team decided to stress the areas of experience and foreign policy in a running mate, then they probably won’t select Warner. Then there is the issue of the Senate election, if Warner was added to the ticket, he would have to abandon his Senate campaign. Would the Democratic Party want to risk a sure win in Virginia?

Odds of Obama picking Warner :

Like Bill Richardson, Mark Warner is a selection that almost makes too much sense for Obama. Many commentators have stressed that when Obama and Warner appear together, they look like a ticket. Warner could easily get out of the Senate race and not hurt his party, as Virginia law allows a candidate to withdraw from a race until 60 days before the election.

This means that as long as Warner got out by September 5, the state party could pick a replacement. With Warner on the ticket with Obama, any Democrat would have a good chance of beating the unpopular Gilmore. If the Obama campaign decides to stress domestic over foreign policy, then Warner should be at the top of their list.

The Choice-O-Meter says:

OOOOOOO (7 Os for Mark Warner)

1 O = No Chance – 10 Os = A Sure Thing

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