Sen.-elect Mark Warner is a high-octane guy about to join what is occasionally called “the World’s Greatest Deliberative Body” - with an emphasis on deliberative.
Mr. Warner, Virginia Democrat, chuckled at the notion that he might have to slow down to find success within the often plodding pace of the U.S. Senate.
“I’m high energy, and I think people want to see things get done,” he said after defeating Republican candidate James S. Gilmore III in the race to replace retiring Sen. John W. Warner, also a Republican.
Mark Warner, not related to the longtime senator, thinks there is room in the job to adapt it to his personal strengths.
“You can make the job whatever you choose, and I intend to be active,” he said.
Mr. Warner, relaxed and lighthearted after thanking campaign staffers and volunteers Wednesday at his campaign headquarters, declined to outline a wish list of committee assignments or plans for sponsoring a bill on Day One of his six-year term.
However, he said a top priority would be “getting this economy jump-started.” He also said that now would be the right time to develop energy-crisis policies that can gain bipartisan support.
“Energy could be the issue that challenges America’s imagination,” said Mr. Warner, a successful entrepreneur in the high-tech industry.
He specifically cited an idea he often mentioned on the campaign trail - incentives for U.S. automakers to develop a car that gets 80 to 100 miles per gallon.
He also said Democrats will have to demonstrate from the outset, to gain public confidence, that they are committed to reining in federal spending.
As for his victory, he congratulated campaign manager Mike Henry for “the best campaign I’ve ever seen in Virginia.” Mr. Warner also said he was gratified that he won across the state, in all 11 congressional districts and in all but a handful of the state’s localities.
A hallmark of Mr. Warner’s campaigns has been his effort to win over conservatives in Southwest Virginia and other rural parts of the state.
He said the strategy paid off for him and for President-elect Barack Obama, a Democrat who also made numerous campaign appearances in rural and small-town Virginia.
Mr. Warner said that in his own visits to Southwest Virginia he urged voters to “give [Mr. Obama] a chance. Get to know him.”
“I think the repeated visits definitely helped” Mr. Obama carry the state, Mr. Warner said.
His victory gives Democrats control of both of Virginia’s seats in the U.S. Senate for the first time since 1970. Just two years ago, Republicans controlled both seats.
Asked about his party’s rapid revival, Mr. Warner disputed the notion that Democrats are the beneficiaries of demographic shifts in the state. He said the party has essentially resurrected its brand by focusing on practical solutions and good management, rather than ideology.
“It’s because we have produced results,” he said. “I don’t think there is a permanent political realignment going on.”