It is a shame Warner chose to run for the White House instead of the Senate. Given Warner’s popularity and the buffoonery of George Allen, the seat would have been his for the taking. The United States Senate would have given him valuable experience making him a more viable Presidential candidate in the future. As it is he has not ruled out running for governor again and it is likely he is on everyone’s short list for Vice President running mate as well as for a cabinet level post in the next Democratic administration. He still has a political future with this state if not beyond.
Senator Evan Bayh is likely the beneficiary of Warner’s exit. The Americans for Bayh blog is certainly excited by Warner’s exit. He too is a former governor from a Red state with moderate appeal. According to Chris Cillizza in the Washington Post,
The most obvious winner from the Warner news is Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh.
Bayh and Warner shared much of the same ideological territory -- moderate,
consensus builders elected in red states. After helping Gov. Tim Kaine (D) win
the governorship in 2005, Warner became the "it" boy of national politics -- the
candidate seen as most likely to emerge as the alternative to New York Sen.
Hillary Rodham Clinton (D).
Warner's ascent came at the expense of Bayh, who found much of the air
sucked out of his candidacy.
No longer. Party insiders say that there was a major behind-the-scenes
fight for donors and activists between Bayh and Warner.
Not surprisingly, the first statement from a prospective 2008er on
Warner's decision came from Bayh, who praised the former governor as
"exceptional public servant, a great leader, and an influential voice in the
Democratic Party." You can expect Bayh to be on the phone today to some of the
money men who had sided with Warner in hopes of locking them up for his own
Bayh still has a number of challenges to overcome if he hopes to ascend
to the top tier of the presidential field -- most notably his perceived charisma
problem -- but one major hurdle has been removed.
Mr. Bayh became governor after I left the great Hoosier state for Virginia so I have no first hand knowledge of his governing or electoral style. I did campaign for his father for the United States Senate when I was in high school and college and always had a great deal of respect for him.
The other obvious winner from Warner's decision not to run is former North
Carolina Sen. John Edwards. Edwards and Warner were seen as occupying the tier just below that of Clinton -- the two candidates given the best chance of
dethroning her for the nomination.
Of course it is still early. As Cillizza notes, former Senator Edwards may be another beneficiary. And, I keep getting fundraising emails from Senator John Kerry.
Senator Hillary Clinton is the candidate to beat. She has the money and the organization. Personally, I think she would make a fine, if not great, President. However, she is carrying some very serious baggage Democrats need to consider before giving her the nomination.
For reasons I have never understood, she fires up the right wingers in this country. Presently, conservatives are depressed. Their man in the White House had done a very poor job carrying out their agenda while giving conservatism a bad name. The conservative leadership in Congress is also inept and years-in-power is taking its toll in corruption and sex scandals. Their unhappiness makes me happy and I would like for them to remain unhappy. However, a Hillary Clinton candidacy would be a shot in the arm for the Neanderthal wing of our political elites. The odd thing about it is she actually a moderate if not slightly conservative Democrat but has a reputation as a real leftie which is just backwards from the way it should be. This is unfair to her but that is the reality. Democrats need to go into this with their eyes open.
That said, if she succeeds in winning the nomination I will work my tail off for her. We need to turn this country around before it is too late.