Senator John Warner of Virginia has announced that he will not seek re-election in 2008. This means that the Senate will be losing one of its biggest windbags, and that the Republican caucus will be losing one of its least steadfast conservatives. Warner generally voted as a conservative, but on big ticket items he seemed to believe it was statesmanlike (or at least made for good sound-bites and good press) to take a moderate or liberal line. Thus, he was a key vote against Robert Bork in the 1980s and a key member of the Gang of 14 two decade later. He has also taken it upon himself to, in his words, “try to bring about a cessation of [the Iraq] conflict.” By that, he really means trying to bring a cessation to U.S. involvement in that conflict — in other words, handing victory to our enemies.
Had Warner retired six years ago, the prospects for replacing him with a true conservative would have been good. Now, it may well be that the seat is Democrat Mark Warner’s for the asking. On the Republican side, the two names we hear the most are Rep. Tom Davis of northern Virginia and former governor Jim Gilmore. Neither would likely defeat Mark Warner, and if Davis (who is no more conservative than John Warner) abandons his seat, the Democrats will probably pick it up too.
JOHN adds: Robert Novak says that Washington Republicans are contemplating the loss of four Senate seats in November.
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