Mark Warner is kicking off his Senate campaign this week. Although the race this fall likely won’t be especially close, its very nice to see Warner taking it seriously and working hard to get the state behind him again. Warner has massive built in advantages over either of his possible Republican opponents, starting with his huge popularity in the state and massive money advantage. Warner is remembered very well in Virginia from his gubernatorial term, whereas Jim Gilmore is not. Gilmore is also locked in a tough nomination fight against Delegate Bob Marshall, who is hammering the already conservative Gilmore from the hard right. Marshall is the most conservative member of a Republican House of Delegates caucus that is already far to the right of Virginia, yet he is popular among conservative activists and is widely viewed as being more consistent and more principled that Gilmore. This race is already at the top of almost every ranking of competitive Senate races including those of the conservative VA Blogger over at Too Conservative, who calls Warner’s position “all-but-guaranteed.”
The GOP’s only chance at this race was likely if Warner decided he had it in the bag and mailed in the campaign, but that doesn’t look likely. He’s running on the same formula that he used in his successful campaign for Governor. This looks like a safe pickup for the Democrats.