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On the Trail / NEXT IN LINE?

A star and his galaxy

August 14, 2008|Don Frederick

Mark R. Warner is expected to reignite his political career with an easy election to the Senate in November in much-watched Virginia. But he already was viewed as a prime presidential contender at some future date.

His selection as keynote speaker for the upcoming Democratic National Convention will only intensify such chatter. At Politico.com, for instance, Mike Allen rates Warner, 53, a "rising star" in the party with "a post-partisan message" resembling Barack Obama's.

Warner's Senate campaign, not surprisingly, sent out an e-mail calling the upcoming address "an amazing opportunity."

It also advised that Warner planned to keep a diary of his convention experience and would be "providing e-mail updates of his activities before and after the big night -- media interviews, visits with the Virginia delegates and backstage moments at the big event -- you name it."

The campaign urged folks to subscribe to "ensure you won't miss a beat."

Warner hasn't missed a beat in building a database of current -- and future -- contributors.

In winning Virginia's governorship in 2001 as a moderate who focused on appealing to rural voters, Warner laid the groundwork for the Democratic resurgence that has put the state's 13 electoral votes firmly in play in this year's presidential contest.

Limited to one four-year term, he left office in 2005 hugely popular and seemingly intent on launching a White House bid. But in the fall of 2006, he pulled the plug on that prospect, saying the timing wasn't right for his family.

Warner decided to run for the Senate after Republican John W. Warner (no relation) announced that he would retire after 30 years in office. Running against Mark Warner is Jim Gilmore, another former Virginia governor who some may vaguely remember as an ever-so-brief participant in the GOP presidential race last year.

Gilmore's White House quest never had a prayer. Based on polling, fundraising and the Democratic trend in Virginia, his chances of derailing Warner seem little better.

-- Don Frederick

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Frederick is one of the writers of The Times' political blog, Top of the Ticket, at latimes.com/topoftheticket.

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