Tags: Mark Warner

Senator Mark Warner, Road Runway Warrior


The office of Sen. Mark Warner, Virginia Democrat, periodically issues press releases informing his constituents that he’s “on the road” or “hitting the road.” It evokes images of the senator out riding like Jack Kerouac.

Apparently “the road” refers to the short drive to the nearest airport, where Warner meets his chartered airplane, paid for by U.S. taxpayers.

USA Today offered a graphic, contrasting Warner’s private plane rides with the actual car rides of his fellow Democratic senator, Tim Kaine:

His spokesperson defended his travel, saying: “Sen. Warner is a road warrior, and he insists on a schedule that goes from dawn to dusk.”

Road warrior, runway warrior… easy to mix that up.

The Virginian Pilot editorial board wrote Saturday, “All explanations aside, chartering a plane when a car would suffice is precisely the kind of spending that makes Americans furious with the federal government. Virginia isn’t Alaska. Or Texas. It’s less than 400 miles from D.C. to Bristol.”

The campaign of Warner’s rival, Ed Gillespie, identified at least six other instances when Senator Warner has touted in a press release that he’s “on the road”… when he was actually chartering private luxury planes and charging them to taxpayers:

1.       On April 18, 2011 Senator Warner charged taxpayers for $3,586 in chartered flights to travel 140 miles to West Point when he said in a press release he was “on the road.”

2.       On August 16, 2011 Senator Warner charged taxpayers $3,160 in chartered private air travel to the Eastern Shore while notifying the press in a release that he was “on the road.”

3.       On July 20, 2012 Senator Warner charged taxpayers for $5,837 in chartered flights from DC, Danville, Lynchburg, and back home to DC while trumpeting in a press release he was “on the road” to the same destinations.

4.       A month later on August 22, 2012, Senator Warner said he was back “on the road” to talk about tough choices in the federal budget, on a trip that actually started with taxpayers footing the charter plane bill for Warner’s return from moving his daughter in to college in North Carolina, as reported by NBC12. The total cost of multiple luxury charters for this trip was $11,037.  

5.   USA Today reported on Warner embarking last year on what “his office trumpeted as a four-day, 1,000-mile trip across his state, with press releases noting he ‘woke up early to hit the road,’ making stops at a minor league ballpark, a craft brewery and a Roanoke rail yard, among others.

But for several hundred of those miles, Warner was not hitting the road — he was flying a chartered plane at a cost totaxpayers of $8,500.”

6.    When Senator Warner reported to his email list that he was back “on the road” a month later, September 20 last year, it that time cost taxpayers $7,551 in charter luxury jet fees from Senator Warner’s favorite charter company, Zen Air.

7.     And when Senator Warner purported to be “on the road” in a press release January 20 of this year, a few days after Ed Gillespie announced his Senate campaign, taxpayers later got the bill for a $3,462 chartered luxury flight.  

It’s all perfectly legal, although some may ask if it’s such a good use of taxpayer money, and a rather inconvenient habit for any lawmaker who wants to claim to be a fiscal conservative or populist.

It’s probably too much to expect Warner to cover these costs himself; he’s only the second-wealthiest member of Congress, with a net worth estimated at $257 million.

Tags: Mark Warner , Ed Gillespie , Virginia

Gillespie Campaign: If Only We Could All Fly ‘Air Warner’!


In Virginia, the Ed Gillespie for Senate campaign unveils a new video hitting Sen. Mark Warner for charging taxpayers for charter flights around the state:

The ad stems from this report in USA Today:

Last summer, Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., embarked on what his office trumpeted as a four-day, 1,000-mile trip across his state, with press releases noting he “woke up early to hit the road,” making stops at a minor league ballpark, a craft brewery and a Roanoke rail yard, among others.

But for several hundred of those miles, Warner was not hitting the road — he was flying a chartered plane at a cost to taxpayers of $8,500.

Warner was one of two dozen U.S. senators who flew taxpayer-funded charter airplanes to, from or around their home state last year at a total cost of just under $1 million, according to a USA TODAY analysis of Senate spending records compiled by the nonpartisan Sunlight Foundation

Senators pay for their official duties from taxpayer-funded accounts set aside for them to cover costs of staff, travel, office supplies and the like. The rules allow them to use these accounts to pay for charter aircraft for official travel when commercial flights “are not such that reasonable schedules may be kept.” Senators decide which way to travel, and some eschewed private jets in favor of flying commercial or simply driving.

Warner’s 1,000-mile trip took him to the far reaches of western Virginia, which is pretty remote territory with no commercial airports. But a month earlier, Virginia’s other U.S. senator, Tim Kaine, made a swing to the same corner of the state by car; his travel cost taxpayers $691. Both Warner and Kaine are Democrats representing the state that is closest to the U.S. Capitol.


Tags: Mark Warner , Ed Gillespie

Chatting With Ed Gillespie (and Snooping Around His Office)


A short while ago, I taped a pair of video interviews with GOP Senate candidate (and friend of NR) Ed Gillespie. In the first, discussing the state of the campaign and the big issues at stake in his bid against incumbent Democratic senator Mark Warner, you can see that if you’ve donated to Gillespie’s Senate campaign, you can rest assured that your money did not go to fancy office furniture:

In the second, Gillespie shows me some of the knickknacks in his personal office – a letter his daughter sent to George W. Bush in crayon and the president’s response; a windbreaker from his days as a U.S. Senate parking attendant, and mementos of his work as a campaign manager for Dick Armey in 1986.

Google Maps seems convinced that the Gillespie campaign is working in a giant oil terminal tank. No doubt that the Warner campaign will cite this to claim that Gillespie’s campaign is “a product of the big oil companies.”

Tags: Ed Gillespie , Mark Warner , Virginia

Wait, Mark Warner’s at 46 Percent Against an Unknown Opponent?


Quinnipiac’s poll in Virginia isn’t fantastic news for Republican Senate candidate Ed Gillespie, but it’s not nearly as bad as the pollster’s interpretation would suggest.

Let’s start with the obvious: Most folks in Virginia don’t know much about Gillespie. Just 20 percent have a favorable impression, 14 percent have an unfavorable impression, and 64 percent haven’t heard enough about him — including 57 percent of Republicans.

So it’s not that surprising that a Democratic incumbent senator, who served as governor before that, holds a big lead over a little-known GOP opponent, 46 percent to 31 percent.

Obviously, Gillespie is going to do everything he can to tie Warner to Obamacare and his vote for the gargantuan, far-reaching law. Quinnipiac found 31 percent say that they’re more likely to vote for a candidate who supports “the 2010 health care law passed by President Obama and Congress” while 45 percent said they were less likely. Overall, 44 percent of Virginians support the law, 52 percent oppose it.

In short, Gillespie’s going to do everything he can to make the Senate race a referendum on Obamacare, and Mark Warner will do everything he can to make sure the race is about anything besides Obamacare. We’ll see how that battle goes, but Florida Democratic U.S. House candidate Alex Sink might have some thoughts on it.

Don’t think that Obama can swoop in and lock the state down for Warner; just 15 percent told Quinnipiac that Obama’s campaigning for him would make them more likely to vote to reelect the senator, 33 percent said less likely.

Sure, Warner’s favorability is 49 percent, but that’s down from 58 percent in November of 2012.

Finally, note that Libertarian Robert Sarvis, who ran for governor last year, is running in the Senate race this year. Quinnipiac puts him at 6 percent, which is roughly what he received in last year’s race. The final Quinnipiac poll in Virginia last year put Sarvis at 8 percent, but some pollsters put him much higher and in double digits. Third-party and independent candidates usually wilt at the end, particularly in Virginia.

In short, Warner’s certainly the favorite, but it’s early, and these numbers don’t portray an unbeatable incumbent.

Having said that, Warner does take some stances we can all applaud:

Tags: Mark Warner , Ed Gillespie

Obama and Red-State Democrats: Perfect Matches!


The National Republican Senatorial Committee marks Valentine’s Day by offering, which shows how much Senate Democrats in red and purple states are, in fact, near-perfect matches for President Obama’s agenda. Everybody from Mark Pryor to Mark Udall is a 90 percent to 99 percent match!

Truly, they were meant for each other. Of course, voters in their states may find the perfect compatibility less appealing.

Tags: Barack Obama , Mark Udall , Mary Landrieu , Mark Begich , Mark Warner , Kay Hagan

Mark Warner’s Broken Promise on Obamacare


The Virginia Republican party reminds everyone of Senator Mark Warner’s insistence that “I’m not going to support a health care reform plan that’s going to take away health care that you’ve got right now, or a health care plan that you like.”

Promise: Broken. And lied about, over and over and over again.

Tags: Obamacare , Mark Warner

What Ed Gillespie Brings to Virginia’s Senate Race


What does 2014 hold for Ed Gillespie, and his hopes of beating incumbent Democratic senator Mark Warner?

Could Gillespie fall flat on his face as a Senate candidate? Theoretically; Virginia’s current governor, Terry McAuliffe, will tell you& it’s one thing to be a party chairman and another thing to run for office. McAuliffe stumbled badly in his first bid for governor in 2009, spending $8.2 million to win 26 percent of the vote in the Democratic primary.

But it’s more likely Gillespie adjusts to life as a candidate pretty handily. Gillespie is familiar with appearing on national television, and debated McAuliffe on stage when the pair were opposing party chairmen. He’s worked in the policy realm at the White House as counselor. He’s got an extensive network of potential donors from his days running the Republican National Committee and chairing the Republican State Legislative Committee. He’ll have all kinds of big GOP names in for rallies and fundraisers. (Gillespie was a senior adviser to the Romney campaign and was communications director for John Kasich’s short-lived 2000 presidential campaign.) He’s got a local network of supporters and potential donors from chairing Bob McDonnell’s campaign in 2009.

The floor for a solid Republican campaign in a midterm election is probably around Ken Cuccinelli’s 45.2 percent. (With no third-party option in the state attorney-general race, Republican Mark Obenshain won 49.8 percent, losing by less than 200 votes with 2.2 million cast.) It’s quite possible Gillespie wins, particularly if Warner’s centrist image and rhetoric are contrasted with his reliably Democratic voting record — Warner’s lifetime ACU rating is 12.5 out of a possible 100. Gillespie won’t get drastically outspent the way Cuccinelli did.

It’s also easy to picture Gilespie doing well, but falling short of a majority against Warner — Democrats will pull out all the stops to protect their incumbent in a state McAuliffe won and Obama carried twice.

If Gillespie does not win, but comes close, he’ll set himself up as a solid GOP candidate in the next statewide race, the one for governor in 2017.

Tags: Ed Gillespie , Terry McAuliffe , Virginia , Mark Warner

Ed Gillespie: I’m Running for Senate Against the Guy Who Passed Obamacare.


Virginians, Ed Gillespie has a message for you:

“I’m running for Senate because the American dream is being undermined by policies that move us away from constitutional principles of limited government and personal liberty.”

It takes Gillespie only one minute and twenty seconds into the announcement to mention that the incumbent Democrat, Senator Mark Warner, “cast the deciding vote for Obamacare.”

Tags: Ed Gillespie , Mark Warner

Virginia’s Long Tradition of Expensive Gifts to Governors


It’s bothersome when an elected official accepts an expensive gift from a donor or person who has business before the state or federal government; even when there’s no explicit quid pro quo, there’s the nagging sense that the official is profiting off their office.

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, a Republican, is ending his term with a daily stream of odious stories of accepting gifts from donors – more than $150,000 in gifts and loans from Jonnie Williams, the CEO of a nutritional supplement maker.

However, it’s worth noting that McDonnell is not the first Virginia governor to accept large gifts from donors while in office. He seems to just be the first one to get a lot of grief from the Washington Post day after day about it.

There was McDonnell’s immediate predecessor, Tim Kaine, now one of the state’s two senators:

Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, a Democrat, accepted an $18,000 Caribbean vacation last year, putting him atop the list of Virginia elected officials who in 2005 accepted nearly $315,000 in gifts, trips, concert tickets and other gratuities from corporations, interest groups and wealthy persons.

The newly elected governor’s winter getaway on Mustique — a private island playground for rock stars and royalty — was paid for by Albemarle County investor James B. Murray Jr.

Murray had contributed $41,000 to Kaine’s campaigns up to that point, according to the Virginia Public Access Project. Kaine reappointed Murray to the Virginia Commission on Higher Education Appointments.

The VPAP site reveals that since 2001, Kaine received $186,899 in gifts and travel – Redskins tickets, cases of wine, etc.

Before Kaine, Virginia’s governor was Mark Warner, now the state’s other senator. Between 2001 and 2004, Warner received $190,362 in gifts and travel – $495 bottles of wine, a $450 “handmade dulcimer,” etc.

Today Terry McAuliffe called on Ken Cuccinelli to give back $18,000 in gifts from Williams. (Compared with Williams’ gifts to McDonnell, perhaps he didn’t like Cuccinelli that much.) We’ll see if McAuliffe finds the gifts to Kaine and Warner bothersome. My guess is, McAuliffe – whose life’s work is ensuring wealthy donors feel sufficiently rewarded by lawmakers – is only bothered by donor gifts to Republican lawmakers. 

Tags: Tim Kaine , Mark Warner , Bob McDonnell , Terry McAuliffe , Ken Cuccinelli

Barack Obama vs. Virginia Democrats on Offshore Drilling


Both Mark Warner and Jim Webb are displeased with President Obama’s decision to ban offshore drilling for the next seven years. Obviously, it’s very early, but making a move that is criticized by Virginia Democrats underlines the question of whether the Obama of 2012 can win this state, as he did in 2008.

Tags: Barack Obama , Jim Webb , Mark Warner

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