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Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The Myth of the Independent Minded Mark Warner

Virginia Senator Mark Warner has tried to nurture the portrait of the "bi-partisan I can work with both sides to get things done" politician since he ran for governor in 2001.  He had no choice during his term as governor because the state legislature was firmly in GOP hands.  As governor,  Warner threatened to shut down state government if he did not get his way on a tax increase to deal with a budget gap.  As the end of the fiscal year approached, he convinced a handful of GOP moderates to go along with Democrats in the House (Senate GOP Leadership was made up almost entirely of (RINOS) to pass what was at the time the largest tax increase in state history.

Warner continued the "bi-partisan" posture when he ran for the U.S. Senate in 2008 against an underfunded former governor, Jim Gilmore.  Gilmore had ticked off the state's GOP establishment the final year of his term by standing firm on his "No Car Tax" initiative, and was further damaged when he barely escaped the nominating convention against Delegate Bob Marshall.

Now, Warner is running for a second term in the Senate.  It looked like he was going to coast to a second term.  Likely because of the way he markets himself, he regularly polls as the most popular elected official in Virginia.  His announced opposition prior to the beginning of the year were several candidates with no elected experience and likely less ability to raise money.  Then, former RNC state and GOP Chairman, and George W. Bush alum, Ed Gillespie, announced he would run.  Warner again trotted out his bipartisan talking points:
“I am asking Virginians to rehire me to keep fighting for bipartisan, common sense solutions to create jobs, get our fiscal house in order, and ensure that all Virginians have a fair shot at economic opportunity. I am proud of my record of working across party lines to put Virginia and our nation first. Whether it is protecting our veterans and military families, putting forth a bold plan to fix our debt and deficit, or fighting for jobs in rural Virginia, I am committed to working tirelessly to help all Virginians. I look forward to putting my independent, bipartisan record up against whichever candidate the Republicans nominate at their convention in June.”
Now, elected officials on both sides of the aisle show off their "bipartisan" credentials by highlighting all of the legislation they have sponsored with high profile members of the other party.  But is that the real measure of bi-partisanship?

Jim Geraghty shared this little tidbit via the National Republican Senatorial Committee in today's Morning Jolt:
Last week, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) sent out a press release with a peculiar new message:"At a time when all voters are sick of Washington partisanship, independence and willingness to put the state ahead of national party are among the most important attributes for successful candidate," they wrote.
Geraghty then shared the percentage of times some of the most vulnerable Red State Democrats have sided with the President's position.  Here is the total for Mark Warner:
Alleged independent-minded Mark Warner of Virginia? 97 percent. Heck, even Bernie Sanders of Vermont only hit 94 percent!
So,  when Mark Warner talks about how "bipartisan" he is and babbling about a "bold plan to fix our debt and deficit", maybe voters should ask him why he has sided with his party 97% of the time, including running up the largest amount of national debt of any President in history.  While you are at it, ping on on that vote for Manchin/Schumer/Toomey that would have criminalized private transfers of firearms.

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