Saturday, June 11, 2005

And They’re Off

There are still Kerry-Edwards signs on lampposts and on bumpers, but the first campaign staff of the 2008 has been formed.

Virginia Gov. Mark R. Warner (D) is forming a federal political action committee and has hired a former top aide to then-Vice President Al Gore to advise him on national politics, the governor’s top political aide in Virginia said.

The new PAC, which has not been named, will allow Warner to begin raising money for a possible run at the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008 while he finishes his term in Virginia. The PAC will be announced formally in July or August, said Mary A. “Mame” Reiley, director of Warner’s One Virginia PAC.


Warner had no national profile for the first three years of his administration as he struggled initially with soaring deficits and later spent six months battling with lawmakers over what he termed tax reform. In 2004, the Republican-controlled legislature approved a $1.5 billion tax increase for the state’s two-year budget over the objections of Virginia’s top GOP leadership. The state later was declared the best-managed in the nation by Governing Magazine.

The tax victory — and Sen. John F. Kerry’s loss in states such as Virginia in the presidential race — helped propel Warner to national prominence. He is often mentioned along with Sens. Kerry (Mass.) and Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.), former senator John Edwards (N.C.) and Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico as possible Democratic contenders.

“Mark is seen as one of the most thoughtful, promising leaders we have in the party,” said Simon Rosenberg, head of the New Democrat Network, a centrist group.

Okay, come on…when was the last time the Democrats nominated a Southern governor that nobody’s heard of outside his state and won?