- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 28, 2001

Political ambition works miraculous changes. It can transform a Northern Virginia yuppie businessman — Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mark R. Warner — into the self-styled "hero of the hills," into an instant country boy. Mr. Warner knows that while his background as a millionaire entrepreneur will find a ready audience in the affluent, white-collar enclaves of Fairfax and Arlington counties, vast swaths of rural Southwest Virginia remain instinctively suspicious of fast-talking Northern Virginia politicos with fat billfolds. Hence the cornpone, aw-shucks makeover. Mr. Warner has even adopted a banjo-strumming hillbilly campaign tune called "Warner" in which he touts his reputation, for public education and promises to "keep our children home." No Confederate flags, though.
State Republican Party Executive Director Ed Matricardi, meanwhile, describes Mr. Warner as an opportunist, a "rich profiteer" who is more or less embarked upon a cynical quest to buy himself into the governor's mansion against his opponent, Republican Mark L. Earley.
Mr. Warner is definitely courting the way-outside-the-Beltway vote. He even got himself onto the field at a stock car race at the Lonesome Pine International Speedway in Coeburn. But voters should remember that behind the good 'ol boy facade is a committed liberal Democrat who has been active in Democratic politics for decades. He worked for liberal Democratic Rep. Christopher J. Dodd from 1975-1978, ran Doug Wilder's gubernatorial campaign and transition in 1989 and was chairman of the Virginia State Democratic Party from 1993-1995. He may be soft-pedaling the hard issues on the campaign trail in order to present a shoe-shuffling Andy Griffith cartoon of himself to the electorate, but voters will hopefully see through this to the well-coiffed Tysons Corner sharpie that lies underneath. And pull the lever accordingly.

CORRECTION: Yesterday's editorial "Hostage of the Taliban" should have stated that Shelter Now Germany's workers "did not violate anything on the long list of don'ts provided by the Taliban." The Times regrets that the word "not" was edited out. The article should also have read "The minister of the Promotion of Virtues and Prevention of Vices restated" the penalty for missionary work, not "reinstated."


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