VA Senate Race Update

Matt Lewis
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Posted: Oct 25, 2007 8:55 AM
Today's Washington Post seems to confirm speculation that VA Rep. Tom Davis will not seek the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by moderate Republican Sen. John Warner.  

Davis may have decided that even if he were to win the GOP convention -- which, due to the format, favored former Governor Jim Gilmore -- defeating popular former Democrat governor Mark Warner would be an uphill battle.  Some are speculating Davis may wait until Sen. Jim Webb is up for re-election in four years, to seek a Senate seat.

Of course, this leaves Virginia Republicans in bad shape.  Jim Gilmore is no longer popular, and Rep. Eric Cantor seems more interested in staying in the House, presumably to one day become Speaker, than in running for Senate.  

Though a draft Pace campaign exists, General Peter Pace is not interested in running -- and speculation that Pat Buchanan may seek the seat seems to be just that.

At the end of the day, the only candidate who seems to be in the race is Gilmore, and almost everyone agrees he cannot win.  This weak field is probably the result of a presumed bad Republican year -- as well as a strong Democrat opponent. 

... But the problem with fielding weak candidates -- even in a tough year -- is that political circumstances change.  For example, who would have thought, two years ago, that Jim Webb would defeat George Allen

So while Mark Warner seems invincible today, there are a few important things to consider.  For one, he was elected Governor in an off-year, which means national politics had influence on his campaign.  Conversely, this time, he will be on the ballot with Hillary Clinton at the top of the ticket.  This, of course, could be a drag on Democrats in places like conservative Southern Virginia.

... What is more, it is possible Warner might abandon his campaign for U.S. Senate, if selected to run as Hillary's Vice President. 

Were this scenario to occur, Tom Davis might wish he had stayed in the race ...