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Monday, March 24, 2014

Is Mark Warner Wishing the Old Filibuster Rules Were Still in Effect?

Last Thursday, Jim Geraghty was doing his weekly appearance on NRANews' Cam and Company. During the discussion on the demise of President Obama's nomination for Surgeon General, Geraghty raised the question of whether endangered Democrats wished that Harry Reid had never imposed the "Nuclear Option" for Obama appointees.

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It made me wonder if Mark Warner is one of those who might be second guessing that vote to do away with the 60 vote threshold for moving certain items through the Senate.  Warner has spent a lot of time since 2000 remaking himself from the anti-gun left of center liberal chairman of the Democratic Party of Virginia to the "radical centrist" Democrat that supports the Second Amendment, balanced budgets, and bipartisanship. As Governor, he never vetoed a pro-gun bill and in 2004 signed 17 really good pieces of pro-gun legislation.  That earned him an NRA "A" rating in 2008 (but no endorsement as his opponent was also a former governor with an "A" rating that also happened to be an NRA Board member).  Warner probably was just looking for the "A" rating anyway.

Even though Warner has tried to portray himself as bipartisan, he has voted with President Obama and Harry Reid 97% of the time over the last five years.  Most recently, thanks to losing the cover of the filibuster, Warner voted to confirm Debo Adegbile, President Obama's pick to head the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Justice Department and an advocate for cop killer Mumia Abu-Jamal.  This wasn't a case of a defendant needing an attorney to defend him at his original trial.  Adegbile took up the cause of this dirt bag decades after his original conviction for the execution style killing of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner.  Reid miscalculated and was abandoned by the Democrats who are considered endangered this year.  Warner apparently feels confident enough about reelection that even having to vote for the advocate of a cop killer did not cause him to break with Reid and the President.  We likely won't know how he would have voted on the gun ban advocate Surgeon General nominee as Reid did a better job of counting votes than he did with the Adegbile nomination and has pulled it from consideration.

We do know that last year Warner voted for the Manchin/Schumer/Toomey amendment that would have criminalized private transfers of firearms, created a national gun registry and had other negative impacts on gun owners, and he voted to confirm both Sonia Sotomayor and Elana Kagan to the Supreme Court. Sotomayor voted against our rights in the McDonald case. Kagan has not had the opportunity to vote on a Second Amendment case since joining the court but is not considered friendly to our rights based on her time in the Obama administration.

As Governor, Warner had to work with a Republican House and Senate.  He was able to carefully cultivate the bipartisan appearance under such circumstances.  Since joining the Senate, he has voted in a more partisan manner.  It remains to be seen if his yet to be determined GOP opponent will be able to capitalize on this more partisan record and give Warner a run for his money.

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