Democratic V.P. List Might Soon Shrink

Mark Warner might run for Va. Senate seat, taking himself off V.P. list.

Aug. 31, 2007 — -- Now that Republican Sen. John Warner has announced that he will not seek re-election in 2008, the vice president list on the Democratic side might soon shrink.

That's because Democrat Mark Warner, the popular former governor of Virginia who gave serious consideration to a presidential bid in 2008, is leaning toward getting into the Senate race, according to Democrats familiar with his thinking.

If Mark Warner gets into the Senate race, his advisers acknowledge that it will effectively remove him from consideration for the No. 2 spot on the Democratic presidential ticket.

Warner has been seen by Democratic strategists as a potentially attractive running mate because he left office with an approval rating of 80 percent despite governing in a traditionally Republican state.

"It would be very difficult for a nominee to go to Sen. [Chuck] Schumer and say, 'We would like to have one of your best Democratic pickup opportunities leave the Senate race,'" a Warner adviser told ABC News.

As chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, Schumer is the man in charge of electing Democrats to the Senate. At present, the party enjoys a slim 51-49 majority.

While Mark Warner appears to be leaning toward a Senate run, it is not his only option.

He has also thought of making another run for governor in 2009, when Virginia's Constitution will force Democratic Gov. Tim Kaine to leave office. While the commonwealth's constitution prohibits governors from serving consecutive terms, it does not bar them from serving multiple nonconsecutive terms.

If Warner were to run for governor, it would keep him in the hunt for the No. 2 slot on the presidential ticket. If he were passed over in 2008, he would still be well-positioned to run for governor the following year.

While Warner's executive image of himself is more in tune with the job of governor, the fact that not all of his daughters are done with high school in northern Virginia is one factor adding to the Senate's appeal.

"He is an executive. Being governor suits his personality," said a Warner adviser before quickly invoking family considerations.

"His family is not as affected if he spends six years just across the river," said the Warner adviser, referring to the proximity of his current home in northern Virginia to Washington, D.C. "A run for governor would require him to relocate back to Richmond at a time when not all of his children are done with school."

A run for the Senate would also give Warner a chance to capture an office that eluded him in his first run for public office. In 1996, John Warner beat him by a margin of 52 percent to 47 percent.

Mark Warner likes to joke that the "most memorable" part of his '96 Senate run was the bumper stickers one of his supporters printed up which said: "Mark, not John."

As Warner tells it, "Someone in Southside Virginia pulled up next to us one day and said: 'Excuse me, sir, what kind of biblical reference is that?'"

Since announcing in late 2006 that he would not run for president, Mark Warner has campaigned for state legislative candidates in Virginia and dabbled in transportation issues for the Bipartisan Policy Council and climate-change issues for the Council on Foreign Relations.

He promises an announcement on his future plans in "a week or so."