Mark Warner Rules Out 2008 Presidential Run

Former Virginia Governor Mark Warner has announced he will not be a candidate for president in 2008:

I have decided not to run for President.

This past weekend, my family and I went to Connecticut to celebrate my Dad’s 81st birthday, and then we took my oldest daughter Madison to start looking at colleges.

I know these moments are never going to come again. This weekend made clear what I’d been thinking about for many weeks—that while politically this appears to be the right time for me to take the plunge—at this point, I want to have a real life.

And while the chance may never come again, I shouldn’t move forward unless I’m willing to put everything else in my life on the back burner.

And that’s exactly the choice a presidential candidate has to make. Running for the White House is now, at minimum, a two year run through an incredibly grueling gauntlet while under a microscope. It’s amazing so many want the job badly enough to endure that.

Markos Moulitsas Zúniga sympathizes and offers some persuasive analysis of the political fallout. The highlights:

As his statement says, he’s not done running for office. His love for the office of governor is well-known, so he would be considered a shoo-in for the governorship in 2009 if he chooses that route. (Virginia governors cannot serve consecutive terms.) Better yet, he would be a strong candidate for the Senate seat in 2008, regardless whether John Warner (R) runs again or not. But, if the rumors are true and John Warner retires, that would be as close to a guaranteed pickup as you can get in politics. (His Republican challenger would likely be Rep. Tom Davis.)


The biggest winner of the 2008 field? There are several. John Edwards, already the frontrunner in my opinion, loses the only serious southern opponent. Already strong in Iowa and Nevada, this will make him the prohibitive favorite in the fourth contest in South Carolina. If he wins the first three out of four, he’s looking pretty good.

Bill Richardson becomes the only serious candidate in the race who is a governor, making it easier for him to distinguish himself from the crowd.

As for HIllary, this is a double-edged sword. She loses the one candidate who probably could’ve gone toe to toe with her on the money front, and the one who had easily built up the most innovative, competent campaign team. But, Hillary will do best if the field remains cluttered with a ton of men. That way, she can win primaries with 30 percent of the vote. If the field narrows quickly, she’d be in trouble. (Of course, I’m still not convinced Hillary is running…)

Mary Katharine Ham thinks it excellent news for the GOP:

He was the only candidate with the Southern/moderate creds to turn possibly turn some Southern states and the backing of the powerful left blogosphere. Which makes me think he wasn’t really all that moderate, but they could very well have gotten away with convincing enough people that he was.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Tano says:

    Amusing to see tiny minds, like Mary Ham’s try to reconcile someone being supported by Kos types and also able to generate 70% approval ratings as the governor of a red state. A politician with the vision to unite rather than divide is just so antithetical to modern Republicanism that the only response is disbelief.

  2. James Joyner says:


    I moved to Virginia well into Warner’s tenure as governor and really don’t have any great insights into his administration. Still, Virginia is only marginally a Red state. The burgeoning Northern Virginia suburbs of DC — where I live and from whence Warner hails — are quite Blue.

    Further, Warner’s “backing” by the left blogosphere is interesting. Among the Big Boys, it seems limited to Armstrong, who is on his payroll, and Kos, who is Armstrong’s partner. Otherwise, there just seems to be a consensus that Someone Other Than Hillary is necessary to give the White House back to the Dems.

  3. Warner I think was the biggest threat to the GOP in 2008. He had the highest potential to flip a significant number of electoral votes (no guarantee he would have) from 2004, without risking any of the blue states. Richardson could flip New Mexico, but that could be balanced by New Hampshire (and was in 2000).

    That is why Rudy is so interesting for the GOP, because he has the potential to flip NY and NJ, which would be a huge hole for the dems to climb out of. I just don’t see Romney having the same potential to flip Mass or environs.

    I think you have to take the man at his word. It is certainly a reasonable statement that the commitment required for the next 2 years to run (which may or may not bear fruit), followed by the 4 or 8 years to serve is huge. Taking him at his word doesn’t mean that there isn’t more to the decision than what he says, but no reason to speculate.

  4. Bandit says:

    Markos Moulitsas Zúniga sympathizes and offers some persuasive analysis of the political fallout.

    John Edwards, already the frontrunner in my opinion,

    Sorry – I’m not persuaded – unless the Rovian mindbeams are in full effect again. I just don’t see the second banana on a losing ticket getting nominated.

  5. Bandit,

    One word: Mondale.