I’m sure that title has confused you, dear reader, since Warner is, after all, the Democrat in the race.
Here’s how Warner managed make the Marshall-Gilmore gulf all but disappear (Washington Post):
Warner, who is expected to become the consensus Democratic nominee June 14 at the party’s convention, announced he will run his first statewide television advertisement Monday.
The ad features testimonials from former state Senate president John H. Chichester, a Republican, and business and civic leaders who credit Warner for closing a budget shortfall that, they imply, Gilmore created in his term as governor from 1998 to 2002.
Now, there may be some bad blood between the Gilmore and Marshall folks (although I had a hard time finding it, Jason Kenney may have stumbled on some), but we all share one thing in common; we can not stand John Chichester.
On every tax issue going back to 2001, John Chichester has been on the wrong side. He tried to put the brakes on the fourth year of the car tax reduction; Jim Gilmore refused to buckle (more on that in the next post). He demanded a tax increase in 2004 that was twice as big as Mark Warner’s. He called for higher taxes in 2006; the House of Delegates blocked him. He refused to back HB3202 last year because it didn’t raise taxes high enough or broadly enough for his tastes.
Of all the Republicans Mark Warner could have chosen for this ad, he picks this guy?
Outside of accidentally uniting his opposition, Warner’s ad tells us something else very important: this guy is not as smart as we all thought.
Warner’s campaign strategy seemed fairly simple: watch the conservatives break apart, and pick up the pieces. It got him close to John Warner in 1996, and it brought him victory over Mark Earley in 2001. My biggest concern about Jim Gilmore was that he could have the same problem as Earley, albeit for different reasons.
This ad, though, tells me Warner saw the winning strategy as picking off Republicans, not conservatives - otherwise he would neverhave considered putting up Chichester (who’s next? Russ Potts?). In other words, the conservatives that Warner may have reached this time will probably not even be courted. This will take the pressure of Gilmore to bring the base together, in case there is anyone not spooked by the Chichester ad into his camp.
This ad reminds me of the Mark Warner who was DPVA Chairman for six two years (three elections), during which he lost four of six two of four statewide elections and scored the worst Dem performance since 1881 in every both legislative election cycle (1991, 1993, and 1995 - each of which was worse than the previous one, thus they all had that dubious distinction on their respective Election Night).
With just one ad, Mark Warner has reminded the GOP why they must keep him out of the Senate and revealed himself to be far from the electoral genius he is supposed to be.
Not only will I support Jim Gilmore now (sorry for the spoiler), I actually think he can win.
I haven’t been this surprised by my own thoughts since I came out for John McCain four months ago.