United States Senate election in Virginia, 2008

United States Senate election in Virginia, 2008

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The 2008 United States Senate election in Virginia was held on November 4, 2008. Incumbent Republican U.S. Senator John Warner
John Warner
John William Warner, KBE is an American Republican politician who served as Secretary of the Navy from 1972 to 1974 and as a five-term United States Senator from Virginia from January 2, 1979, to January 3, 2009...

 decided to retire instead of seeking a sixth term. Democrat Mark Warner
Mark Warner
Mark Robert Warner is an American politician and businessman, currently serving in the United States Senate as the junior senator from the Commonwealth of Virginia. He is a member of the Democratic Party. Warner was the 69th governor of Virginia from 2002 to 2006 and is the honorary chairman of...

 (no relation) won the open seat by the most lopsided margin for a contested Senate race in Virginia in 20 years.

Background


John Warner
John Warner
John William Warner, KBE is an American Republican politician who served as Secretary of the Navy from 1972 to 1974 and as a five-term United States Senator from Virginia from January 2, 1979, to January 3, 2009...

 had served Virginia in the Senate since 1979, and had been cagey about whether he would be running for re-election. He would have been favored for a sixth term had he decided to run again, even with recent Democratic gains in the state. In early 2007, speculation and rumors of his possible retirement were raised in the news media, and when Warner reported on April 12, 2007 that he had raised only $500 in campaign contributions during the first quarter, speculation increased that he may not seek a sixth term.

On August 31, 2007, Warner formally announced that he would not be seeking re-election. The race was expected to be competitive, given the Democrats' two successive gubernatorial victories (2001, 2005) and the unseating of Republican senator George Allen
George Allen (U.S. politician)
George Felix Allen is a former United States Senator from the Commonwealth of Virginia, and the son of former NFL head coach George Allen. Allen served Virginia in the state legislature, as the 67th Governor, and in both bodies of the U.S. Congress, winning election to the Senate in 2000...

 by Jim Webb
Jim Webb
James Henry "Jim" Webb, Jr. is the senior United States Senator from Virginia. He is also an author and a former Secretary of the Navy. He is a member of the Democratic Party....

 in 2006.

The Wall Street Journal
The Wall Street Journal
The Wall Street Journal is an American English-language international daily newspaper. It is published in New York City by Dow Jones & Company, a division of News Corporation, along with the Asian and European editions of the Journal....

reported a story of National Republican Senatorial Committee
National Republican Senatorial Committee
The National Republican Senatorial Committee is the Republican Hill committee for the United States Senate, working to elect Republicans to that body. The NRSC was founded in 1916 as the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee...

 chairman Senator John Ensign
John Ensign
John Eric Ensign is a former United States Senator from Nevada, serving from January 2001 until he resigned amid an investigation of an ethics violation in May 2011...

 outlining the 10 most competitive seats of the 2008 Senate Election. When asked about the two GOP seats likely to switch parties, Virginia and New Mexico, on whether the NRSC is mulling walking away to work on other seats that can be won, Ensign said, "You don’t waste money on races that don’t need it or you can’t win.” This suggested that the NRSC may have started cutting money off.

Democratic party


On September 12, 2007, former Governor Mark Warner
Mark Warner
Mark Robert Warner is an American politician and businessman, currently serving in the United States Senate as the junior senator from the Commonwealth of Virginia. He is a member of the Democratic Party. Warner was the 69th governor of Virginia from 2002 to 2006 and is the honorary chairman of...

 (no relation to John Warner) announced his candidacy. Mark Warner had challenged John Warner for his Senate seat in 1996, but was narrowly defeated. Mark Warner later won election in 2001 as Governor of Virginia
Governor of Virginia
The governor of Virginia serves as the chief executive of the Commonwealth of Virginia for a four-year term. The position is currently held by Republican Bob McDonnell, who was inaugurated on January 16, 2010, as the 71st governor of Virginia....

, and left office with a high level of popularity in 2006. He was confirmed as the party nominee at the state convention on June 10, 2008, as he went unopposed.

Republican party


On September 16, 2007, Republican 11th District Congressman
Virginia's 11th congressional district
Virginia's Eleventh Congressional District is a U.S. congressional district in the Commonwealth of Virginia. It comprises most of Fairfax County, all of the city of Fairfax, and part of eastern Prince William County...

 Tom Davis
Thomas M. Davis
Thomas Milburn "Tom" Davis III was a Republican member of the United States House of Representatives, representing Virginia's 11th congressional district in Northern Virginia. Davis was considering a run for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by five-term incumbent and fellow Republican John...

 unofficially announced that he would seek election to the seat. The Washington Times
The Washington Times
The Washington Times is a daily broadsheet newspaper published in Washington, D.C., the capital of the United States. It was founded in 1982 by Unification Church founder Sun Myung Moon, and until 2010 was owned by News World Communications, an international media conglomerate associated with the...

 reported that John Warner delayed his retirement announcement specifically to help Davis.

On October 13, the Republican party's state central committee voted 47-37 to hold a statewide convention
Political convention
In politics, a political convention is a meeting of a political party, typically to select party candidates.In the United States, a political convention usually refers to a presidential nominating convention, but it can also refer to state, county, or congressional district nominating conventions...

 rather than a primary. Former Virginia governor Jim Gilmore
Jim Gilmore
James Stuart "Jim" Gilmore III is an American politician from the Commonwealth of Virginia, former 68th Governor of Virginia, and a member of the Republican Party. A native Virginian, Gilmore studied at the University of Virginia, and then served in the U.S. Army as a counterintelligence agent...

 argued strongly for a convention, claiming it would save the candidates money. It reportedly costs $4 million to compete in a primary, while it costs only $1 million for a convention. Davis argued that a primary would expose the candidates to the kind of environment they would face in November. A primary was thought to favor Davis due to his popularity in voter-rich Northern Virginia
Northern Virginia
Northern Virginia consists of several counties and independent cities in the Commonwealth of Virginia, in a widespread region generally radiating southerly and westward from Washington, D.C...

. In contrast, a convention was thought to favor Gilmore because most of the delegates would come from the party's activist base, which is tilted heavily to the right. With the decision, Gilmore said he was seriously considering entering the race.

Davis officially dropped out of the race on October 25, 2007, citing the potential difficulties of defeating Gilmore in the conservative-dominated GOP convention and in taking on Warner, who is very popular in Davis' own Northern Virginia base. Gilmore confirmed his candidacy on November 19, 2007.

On January 7, 2008 social conservative state Delegate Robert G. "Bob" Marshall
Robert G. Marshall
Robert G. "Bob" Marshall is a Republican member of the Virginia House of Delegates representing the 13th District, currently serving his 7th term. His district includes portions of Prince William and Loudoun counties.In 2008, Marshall was a candidate for the United States Senate seat being...

 (R-Prince William County), a sixteen-year state legislator from Northern Virginia announced he would challenge Gilmore for the Republican nomination May 31, 2008. Veteran Bob Berry from Fairfax County
Fairfax County, Virginia
Fairfax County is a county in Virginia, in the United States. Per the 2010 Census, the population of the county is 1,081,726, making it the most populous jurisdiction in the Commonwealth of Virginia, with 13.5% of Virginia's population...

 also ran for the republican nomination. On May 31, 2008, the Republican state convention nominated Jim Gilmore with 50.3% of the vote. Gilmore received 65 votes more than Marshall.

Republican Convention Vote
Candidate District 1 District 2 District 3 District 4 District 5 District 6 District 7 District 8 District 9 District 10 District 11 Total
Jim Gilmore 491 613 121 319 667 531 1036 156 552 160 557 5223
Bob Marshall 643 345 75 383 420 507 582 145 335 585 1137 5157
Total 1134 958 196 702 1087 938 1618 301 887 745 1714 10380

Third parties


On March 29, 2008, the Libertarian Party
Libertarian Party (United States)
The Libertarian Party is the third largest and fastest growing political party in the United States. The political platform of the Libertarian Party reflects its brand of libertarianism, favoring minimally regulated, laissez-faire markets, strong civil liberties, minimally regulated migration...

 of Virginia state convention nominated Bill Redpath
Bill Redpath
William Redpath is the current Treasurer and immediate past National Chair of the United States Libertarian Party, first elected by delegates to the 2006 Libertarian National Convention in Portland, Oregon in July 2006...

 as its Senate candidate. Redpath, the current national party chair, cited the importance of running a Libertarian candidate for federal office this election year, considering the fact that the Independent Greens have been fielding candidates so actively in recent years. Glenda Gail Parker from Alexandria
Alexandria, Virginia
Alexandria is an independent city in the Commonwealth of Virginia. As of 2009, the city had a total population of 139,966. Located along the Western bank of the Potomac River, Alexandria is approximately six miles south of downtown Washington, D.C.Like the rest of northern Virginia, as well as...

, a retired U.S. Air Force officer, will run again for the Independent Greens as she did in the 2006 Senate election.

Nominated candidates


After the Democratic, Republican, and Libertarian State Conventions, the final nominated candidates for the 2008 Virginia Senate Election were:
  • Jim Gilmore - Republican Nominee - From Henrico County, Virginia
    Henrico County, Virginia
    Henrico is a county located in the Commonwealth of Virginia, a state of the United States. As of 2010, Henrico was home to 306,935 people. It is located in the Richmond-Petersburg region and is a portion of the Richmond Metropolitan Statistical Area...

  • Mark Warner - Democratic Nominee - From Alexandria, Virginia
    Alexandria, Virginia
    Alexandria is an independent city in the Commonwealth of Virginia. As of 2009, the city had a total population of 139,966. Located along the Western bank of the Potomac River, Alexandria is approximately six miles south of downtown Washington, D.C.Like the rest of northern Virginia, as well as...

  • Bill Redpath - Libertarian Nominee - From Leesburg, Virginia
    Leesburg, Virginia
    Leesburg is a historic town in, and county seat of, Loudoun County, Virginia, United States of America. Leesburg is located west-northwest of Washington, D.C. along the base of the Catoctin Mountain and adjacent to the Potomac River. Its population according the 2010 Census is 42,616...

  • Glenda Gail Parker - Green Nominee - From Alexandria, Virginia
    Alexandria, Virginia
    Alexandria is an independent city in the Commonwealth of Virginia. As of 2009, the city had a total population of 139,966. Located along the Western bank of the Potomac River, Alexandria is approximately six miles south of downtown Washington, D.C.Like the rest of northern Virginia, as well as...


Candidates

  • Jim Gilmore
    Jim Gilmore
    James Stuart "Jim" Gilmore III is an American politician from the Commonwealth of Virginia, former 68th Governor of Virginia, and a member of the Republican Party. A native Virginian, Gilmore studied at the University of Virginia, and then served in the U.S. Army as a counterintelligence agent...

     (R), former Governor
  • Glenda Parker (G)
  • Bill Redpath
    Bill Redpath
    William Redpath is the current Treasurer and immediate past National Chair of the United States Libertarian Party, first elected by delegates to the 2006 Libertarian National Convention in Portland, Oregon in July 2006...

     (L)
  • Mark Warner
    Mark Warner
    Mark Robert Warner is an American politician and businessman, currently serving in the United States Senate as the junior senator from the Commonwealth of Virginia. He is a member of the Democratic Party. Warner was the 69th governor of Virginia from 2002 to 2006 and is the honorary chairman of...

     (D), former Governor

Campaign




After the conclusions of the state conventions, Democrat Mark Warner had emerged has the front-runner for the Junior Senate Seat from Virginia. Early polls showed Mark Warner beating Jim Gilmore by as much as 2-1.

Pundits and analysis's largely believed Virginia to be the safe's pickup opportunity for the Democrats due to Warner's high approvals and constant lead in the polls. When polls closed on election night, Warner was declared the winner based on exit polls, before any numbers even came in.

Jim Gilmore responded aggressively, mostly with ads on the web; his campaign had very little money. Gilmore attacked Warner for raising taxes during his term as Governor, when he had pledged not to do so, flip-flopping among many other topics.

On October 6, 2008, Mark Warner and Jim Gilmore debated various issues including the Bailout of Financial Markets
Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008
The Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 The Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 The Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 (Division A of , commonly referred to as a bailout of the U.S. financial system, is a law enacted in response to the subprime mortgage crisis...

, the Iraq War and Judicial Nominees. The Richmond Times Dispatch sponsored the debate held at the Taubman Museum of Art, Roanoke, Virginia
Roanoke, Virginia
Roanoke is an independent city in the Mid-Atlantic U.S. state of Virginia and is the tenth-largest city in the Commonwealth. It is located in the Roanoke Valley of the Roanoke Region of Virginia. The population within the city limits was 97,032 as of 2010...

.

CQ Politics rated this race as 'Safe Democrat'. The Cook Political Report considered it 'Likely Democrat'.
The Rothenberg Political Report
Stuart Rothenberg
Stuart Rothenberg is an American editor, publisher, and political analyst best known for his Washington-based, biweekly, self-proclaimed non-partisan political newsletter The Rothenberg Political Report...

considered it a 'Likely Takeover'. In June, Senator John Ensign
John Ensign
John Eric Ensign is a former United States Senator from Nevada, serving from January 2001 until he resigned amid an investigation of an ethics violation in May 2011...

 of Nevada, the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee
National Republican Senatorial Committee
The National Republican Senatorial Committee is the Republican Hill committee for the United States Senate, working to elect Republicans to that body. The NRSC was founded in 1916 as the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee...

, considered the state to be one of the top ten most competitive Senate races.

Mark Warner
Mark Warner
Mark Robert Warner is an American politician and businessman, currently serving in the United States Senate as the junior senator from the Commonwealth of Virginia. He is a member of the Democratic Party. Warner was the 69th governor of Virginia from 2002 to 2006 and is the honorary chairman of...

 argued he'd be a founder and part of a radical centrist coalition
Coalition
A coalition is a pact or treaty among individuals or groups, during which they cooperate in joint action, each in their own self-interest, joining forces together for a common cause. This alliance may be temporary or a matter of convenience. A coalition thus differs from a more formal covenant...

, no matter who won the Presidency. He claimed the coalition would improve cooperation in the Congress and its subsequent public perception. Warner spoke of alternative energy
Alternative energy
Alternative energy is an umbrella term that refers to any source of usable energy intended to replace fuel sources without the undesired consequences of the replaced fuels....

, and Gilmore argued for offshore drilling
Offshore drilling
Offshore drilling refers to a mechanical process where a wellbore is drilled through the seabed. It is typically carried out in order to explore for and subsequently produce hydrocarbons which lie in rock formations beneath the seabed...

 much like Republican Presidential nominee John McCain
John McCain
John Sidney McCain III is the senior United States Senator from Arizona. He was the Republican nominee for president in the 2008 United States election....

 and President George W. Bush
George W. Bush
George Walker Bush is an American politician who served as the 43rd President of the United States, from 2001 to 2009. Before that, he was the 46th Governor of Texas, having served from 1995 to 2000....

 . The issue of the 2004 tax increase under then Gov. Mark Warner was raised at the first debate of the campaign between Gilmore and Warner.

The Washington Post
The Washington Post
The Washington Post is Washington, D.C.'s largest newspaper and its oldest still-existing paper, founded in 1877. Located in the capital of the United States, The Post has a particular emphasis on national politics. D.C., Maryland, and Virginia editions are printed for daily circulation...

 reported on July 24, 2008, that Jim Gilmore
Jim Gilmore
James Stuart "Jim" Gilmore III is an American politician from the Commonwealth of Virginia, former 68th Governor of Virginia, and a member of the Republican Party. A native Virginian, Gilmore studied at the University of Virginia, and then served in the U.S. Army as a counterintelligence agent...

 "submitted false information on two financial disclosure forms that hid his ties to a government contractor embroiled in a legal dispute over allegations that two of its executives had conspired to defraud the federal government." The Gilmore campaign responded by saying, the controversy was due to a "clerical error."

Fundraising


Money played a large role in the campaign. By July, Mark Warner
Mark Warner
Mark Robert Warner is an American politician and businessman, currently serving in the United States Senate as the junior senator from the Commonwealth of Virginia. He is a member of the Democratic Party. Warner was the 69th governor of Virginia from 2002 to 2006 and is the honorary chairman of...

 had raised $9 million, while Jim Gilmore
Jim Gilmore
James Stuart "Jim" Gilmore III is an American politician from the Commonwealth of Virginia, former 68th Governor of Virginia, and a member of the Republican Party. A native Virginian, Gilmore studied at the University of Virginia, and then served in the U.S. Army as a counterintelligence agent...

 had raised $1.2 million. This does not include money from the DSCC
Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is the Democratic Hill committee for the United States Senate. It is the only organization solely dedicated to electing Democrats to the United States Senate. The DSCC's current chair is Sen. Patty Murray, who succeeded Sen. Robert Menendez following...

 or NRSC
National Republican Senatorial Committee
The National Republican Senatorial Committee is the Republican Hill committee for the United States Senate, working to elect Republicans to that body. The NRSC was founded in 1916 as the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee...

.

Endorsements


Mark Warner
  • Bristol Herald-Courier
  • Daily Press
    Daily Press (Virginia)
    The Daily Press is a morning newspaper located in Newport News, Virginia, that covers the Hampton Roads metro area of Virginia. It was established in 1896 and has been owned by the Tribune Company since July 1986...

     (Newport News)
  • Danville Register & Bee
  • Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star
  • Loudoun Times-Mirror
  • Martinsville Bulletin
  • News and Advance (Lynchburg)
  • The Roanoke Times
    The Roanoke Times
    The Roanoke Times is the primary newspaper in Southwestern Virginia and is based in Roanoke, Virginia, United States. It is published by Landmark Media Enterprises...

  • The Virginian-Pilot
    The Virginian-Pilot
    The Virginian-Pilot is a daily newspaper based in Norfolk, Virginia, and serving the Hampton Roads metropolitan area, southeastern Virginia, the Eastern Shore of Virginia, and northeastern North Carolina. The flagship property of Landmark Media Enterprises, The Pilot is Virginia's largest daily...

     (Norfolk)
  • Washington Post


Jim Gilmore
  • Richmond Times-Dispatch
    Richmond Times-Dispatch
    The Richmond Times-Dispatch is the primary daily newspaper in Richmond the capital of Virginia, United States, and is commonly considered the "newspaper of record" for events occurring in much of the state...


Predictions

Source Ranking As of
Cook Political Report
Cook Political Report
The Cook Political Report is an independent, non-partisan online newsletter that analyzes elections and campaigns for the United States House of Representatives, the United States Senate, Governor's offices and the American Presidency. The Cook Political Report is led by a staff of five...

Solid D October 31, 2008
Rothenberg
Stuart Rothenberg
Stuart Rothenberg is an American editor, publisher, and political analyst best known for his Washington-based, biweekly, self-proclaimed non-partisan political newsletter The Rothenberg Political Report...

Likely Takeover October 28, 2008
Swing State Project Safe D
RealClearPolitics
RealClearPolitics
RealClearPolitics is a political news and polling data aggregator based in Chicago, Illinois. The site's founders say their goal is to give readers "ideological diversity." They have described themselves as frustrated with what they perceive as anti-conservative, anti-Christian media bias, and...

Likely D October 31, 2008
Sabato's Crystal Ball
Sabato's Crystal Ball
Sabato’s Crystal Ball is a free, nonpartisan weekly online newsletter and comprehensive website in the United States that analyzes the current American political scene and predicts electoral outcomes for U.S House of Representatives, U.S. Senate, governors, and U.S. president races...

Safe D October 28, 2008
CQ Politics
Congressional Quarterly
Congressional Quarterly, Inc., or CQ, is a privately owned publishing company that produces a number of publications reporting primarily on the United States Congress...

Safe D October 31, 2008

Polling

Source Date Gilmore (R) Warner (D)
Survey USA November 1, 2008 35% 59%
Survey USA October 26, 2008 32% 63%
Survey USA October 18, 2008 36% 60%
Rasmussen Reports October 16, 2008 36% 61%
Rasmussen Reports September 25, 2008 34% 60%
Survey USA September 21, 2008 34% 57%
Newport University September 17, 2008 30% 54%
Public Policy Polling September 13, 2008 33% 57%
Survey USA September 12, 2008 34% 57%
Survey USA September 7, 2008 35% 56%
Public Policy Polling August 22, 2008 32% 55%
Rasmussen Reports August 12, 2008 35% 61%
Rasmussen Reports July 16, 2008 36% 59%
PPP(D) June 14, 2008 28% 59%
Rasmussen Reports June 12, 2008 33% 60%
Rasmussen Reports May 8, 2008 37% 55%
Rasmussen Reports March 26, 2008 39% 55%
Rasmussen Reports February 19, 2008 37% 57%
Rasmussen Reports January 3, 2008 38% 53%
SurveyUSA November 5, 2007 35% 57%
Rasmussen Reports October 24, 2007 37% 53%
Washington Post October 12, 2007 31% 61%
Newport University October 1, 2007 27% 51%
Survey USA September 17, 2007 32% 60%
Rasmussen Reports September 5, 2007 34% 54%

Results


External links


General
Official campaign websites