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Mark R. Warner

Assumed office 
January 3, 2009
Serving with Jim Webb
Preceded by John Warner

In office
January 12, 2002 – January 14, 2006
Lieutenant Tim Kaine
Preceded by Jim Gilmore
Succeeded by Tim Kaine

10th Chairman of the Democratic Party of Virginia
In office
Preceded by Paul Goldman
Succeeded by Suzie Wrenn

Born December 15, 1954 (1954-12-15) (age 55)
Indianapolis, Indiana
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Lisa Collis
Residence Alexandria, Virginia
Alma mater George Washington University (B.A.)
Harvard Law School (J.D.)
Profession Telecommunications Executive
Religion Presbyterian

Mark Robert Warner (born December 15, 1954) is an American politician and businessman, currently serving in the United States Senate as the Junior Senator from the Commonwealth of Virginia. He is a member of the Democratic Party. Warner was the 69th Governor of Virginia from 2002 to 2006 and is the Honorary Chairman of the Forward Together PAC. Warner delivered the keynote address before the nation at the 2008 Democratic National Convention.

Mark Warner's experience as a Congressional staffer and Democratic Party fundraiser in the 1980s prompted his involvement in telecommunications venture capital.

In 2006, he was widely expected to pursue the Democratic nomination in the 2008 U.S. presidential elections; however, he announced in October 2006 that he would not run, citing a desire not to disrupt his family life. Warner was considered to be a potential vice presidential pick, but upon receiving the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate he announced that he "will not accept any other opportunity."[1]

He currently serves on the board of National Democratic Institute for International Affairs.


Early life and career

Warner was born in Indianapolis, Indiana; he is the son of Robert and Marge Warner, and is the older brother of Lisa Warner. He grew up in Illinois, and later in Vernon, Connecticut, where he graduated from Rockville High School. He attributes his interest in politics to his eighth grade social studies teacher, Jim Tyler, who "inspired him to work for social and political change during the tumultuous year of 1968."[2] Warner was class president for three years at Rockville High School and hosted a weekly pick-up basketball game at his house, "a tradition that continues today." [2]

Warner later went on to major in political science at The George Washington University (GW), earning his B.A. in 1977 with a 4.0 GPA. He was valedictorian of his class at GW and the first in his family to graduate from college.[2] At GW he had worked on Capitol Hill to pay for his tuition, riding his bike early mornings to the office of U.S. Senator Abe Ribicoff, Democrat from Connecticut.[2] When his parents visited him at college, he obtained two tickets for them to tour the White House; when his father asked him why he didn't get a ticket for himself, he replied, "I'll see the White House when I'm president."[2] After graduation, Warner attended Harvard Law School, where he coached the school's first intramural women's basketball team and received his Juris Doctor in 1980. Warner has never practiced law.[2]

In the early 1980s, Warner served as a staff member to U.S. Senator Christopher Dodd, also a Democrat from Connecticut.[3] He later used his knowledge of federal telecommunication law and policies as a broker of mobile phone franchise licenses, making a significant fortune. According to one source, this knowledge was gained while working as fundraiser for Democrats. As managing director of Columbia Capital Corporation, he helped found or was an early investor in a number of technology companies. He was one of the early investors in Nextel, co-founded Capital Cellular Corporation, and built up an estimated net worth of more than $200 million.[4]

Warner married Lisa Collis, whom he had met in 1984 at a keg party in Washington, D.C., in 1989.[2] While on their honeymoon in 1989 in Egypt and Greece, Warner became ill; upon returning home, doctors discovered he had suffered a near-fatal burst appendix. Warner spent two months in the hospital recovering from the illness.[2] During her husband's tenure as governor, Collis was the first Virginia first lady to use her maiden name. Warner and Collis have three daughters, Madison, Gillian and Eliza.

Warner involved himself in public efforts related to health care, telecommunications, information technology and education. He managed Douglas Wilder's successful 1989 gubernatorial campaign, served as chairman of the state Democratic Party and ultimately made his own bid for public office, unsuccessfully running for the U.S. Senate in 1996 against incumbent Republican John Warner (no relation) in a "Warner vs. Warner" election. Mark Warner performed strongly in the state's rural areas, making the contest much closer than many pundits expected.[3]

69th Governor of Virginia

Then-Gov. Mark Warner as the state commander-in-chief

In 2001, Warner campaigned for governor as a moderate Democrat after years of slowly building up a power base in rural Virginia, particularly Southwest Virginia.

He defeated Republican candidate Mark Earley, the state Attorney General, in "Mark vs. Mark" election, with 52.16 percent, a margin of 96,943 votes. Warner had a significant funding advantage, spending $20 million compared to Earley's $10 million.[5] Warner also benefited from dissension in Republican ranks after a heated battle for the nomination between Earley, backed by religious conservatives, and then-Lt. Gov. John H. Hager, some of whose supporters later openly backed Warner. In the same election, Republican Jerry Kilgore was elected attorney general, and Democrat Tim Kaine was elected lieutenant governor.

In his campaign for Governor in 2001, Warner said that he would not raise taxes. After he was elected, in 2002, Warner drew upon a $900 million "rainy day fund" left by his predecessor, James S. Gilmore, III.[6][7] and, in 2002, Warner campaigned in favor of two regional sales tax increases (Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads) to fund transportation. Virginians rejected both regional referendums to raise the sales tax in 2002. In 2004, Warner worked with Democratic and moderate Republican legislators and the business community to reform the tax code, lowering food and some income taxes, and increasing the sales and cigarette taxes. Warner's tax package effected a net tax increase of approximately $1.5 billion annually. Warner credited the additional revenues with saving the state's AAA bond rating, held at the time by only 5 other states, and allowing the single largest investment in K-12 education in Virginia history. Warner also entered into an agreement with Democrats and moderate Republicans in the Virginia Senate to cap state car tax reimbursements to local governments, which had the effect of increasing car taxes in many localities.

Warner speaking in Philadelphia, May 2006.

Warner's popularity may have helped Democrats gain seats in the Virginia House of Delegates in 2003 and again in 2005, reducing the majorities built up by Republicans in the 1990s. Warner chaired the National Governors Association in 2004-2005 and led a national high school reform movement. He also chaired the Southern Governors' Association and was a member of the Democratic Governors Association. In January 2005, a two-year study[8] the Government Performance Project, in conjunction with Governing magazine and the Pew Charitable Trust graded each state in four management categories: money, people, infrastructure and information. Virginia and Utah received the highest ratings average with both states receiving an A- rating overall, prompting Warner to dub Virginia "the best managed state in the nation."

Warner with Virginia House of Delegates minority leader Ward Armstrong (left) and U.S. Senator Jim Webb (right), November 4, 2007.

Kaine and Kilgore both sought to succeed Warner as Governor of Virginia. (The Virginia Constitution forbids any governor from serving consecutive terms; so Warner could not have run for a second term in 2005.) On November 8, 2005, Kaine, the former mayor of Richmond, won with 52% of the vote. Kilgore, who had resigned as attorney general in February 2005 to campaign full time and who had previously served as Virginia Secretary of Public Safety, received 46% of the vote. Russ Potts, a Republican state senator, also ran for governor as an independent, receiving 2% of the vote. Warner had supported and campaigned for Kaine, and many national pundits considered Kaine's victory to be further evidence of Warner's political clout in Virginia, as well as a signal of his viability as a presidential candidate.

On November 29, 2005 Warner commuted the death sentence of Robin Lovitt to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. Lovitt was convicted of murdering Clayton Dicks at an Arlington pool hall in 1999. After his trial in 2001, a court clerk illegally destroyed evidence that was used against Lovitt during his trial, but that could theoretically have exonerated him upon further DNA testing. Lovitt's death sentence would have been the 1,000th carried out in the United States since the Supreme Court reinstated capital punishment as permissible under the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution in 1976. In a statement, Warner said, "The actions of an agent of the commonwealth, in a manner contrary to the express direction of the law, comes at the expense of a defendant facing society's most severe and final sanction." Warner denied clemency in 11 other death penalty cases that came before him as governor.

Warner also arranged for DNA tests of evidence left from the case of Roger Keith Coleman, who was put to death by the state in 1992. Coleman was convicted in the 1981 rape and stabbing death of his 19-year-old sister-in-law, Wanda McCoy. Coleman drew national attention, even making the cover of Time, by repeatedly claiming innocence and protesting the unfairness of the death penalty. However, DNA results announced on January 12, 2006, seemed to confirm Coleman's guilt.[9]

In July 2005, his approval ratings were at 74%[10] and in some polls reached 80% range.[11] Warner left office with a 71% approval rating in one poll.[12]

2008 United States Senate election

Warner accepts the nomination as the Democratic candidate for the Senate

While on October 12, 2006, Warner ruled out a 2008 presidential bid,[13] Warner declared on September 13, 2007 that he would run for Senate in 2008, following an announcement nearly two weeks prior by then-current Senator John Warner (no relation) that he would not seek re-election.

Warner delivers the keynote address during the second day of the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado.

Warner immediately gained the endorsement of most national Democrats. He briefly had a primary opponent, Julien Modica, but Modica failed to qualify by the filing deadline. He held a wide lead over his Republican opponent, fellow former Virginia governor Jim Gilmore, for virtually the entire campaign.[14]

Warner delivered the keynote address at the 2008 Democratic National Convention.[15]

In a Washington Post/ABC News Poll dated Wednesday, September 24, Warner was up 30 points over Gilmore.[16]

In the November election "Va Gov vs. Va Gov", Warner defeated Gilmore in a rout, taking 65 percent of the vote to Gilmore's 34 percent. Warner carried all but four counties in the state—Rockingham, Augusta, Powhatan and Hanover. In many cases, he ran up huge margins in areas of the state that have traditionally voted Republican.[17] This was the most lopsided margin for a contested Senate race in Virginia since Chuck Robb took 72 percent of the vote in 1988.

Warner's victory means Virginia has two Democratic Senators for the first time since Harry Byrd, Jr. left the Democrats to become an independent (while still caucusing with the Democrats) in 1970.

Senate career

Committee assignments

Electoral history

United States Senate election in Virginia, 2008
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Mark Warner 2,187,613 65%
Republican Jim Gilmore 1,174,425 34%
Virginia gubernatorial election, 2001
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Mark Warner 984,177 52.2
Republican Mark Earley 887,234 47.0
United States Senate election in Virginia, 1996
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican John Warner (Incumbent) 1,235,743 52.5 -27.9
Democratic Mark Warner 1,115,981 47.4

Personal life

Warner grows 15 acres (61,000 m2) of grapes for Ingleside Vineyards at his Virginia farm; Ingleside bottles a private label that Warner offers at charity auctions.


  1. ^ Bob Lewis (2008-06-14). "Warner takes self out of VP mix". Associated Press. Retrieved 2008-06-15. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Hook, Carol S. "10 Things You Didn't Know About Mark Warner." U.S. News & World Report 5 November 2008.
  3. ^ a b "Mark R. Warner." Biography Resource Center Online. Gale, 2003. Reproduced in Biography Resource Center. Farmington Hills, Mich.: Gale, 2008. Document Number: K1650003526. Fee. Retrieved 2008-09-25.
  4. ^ Peter Hardin (2007-10-16). "Mark Warner's funds top $1 million". Retrieved 2007-12-16. 
  5. ^ On-line Campaign Finance Disclosure Reports
  6. ^ "Mark Warner's rising stock". The Roanoke Times. 2006-01-01. Retrieved 2007-12-16. 
  7. ^ Page Boinest Melton (200-01). "Reality check". Retrieved 2007-12-16. 
  8. ^ "Virginia". Government Performance Project. Governing magazine. 2005. Retrieved 2006-10-02. 
  9. ^ Glod, Maria; Michael D. Shear (January 13, 2006). "DNA Tests Confirm Guilt of Executed Man". Washington Post. Retrieved 2006-10-02. 
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^ Washington Post, October 17, 2006
  14. ^ Larry Sabato (2007-12-14). "A Second Democratic Year in '08?". RealClearPolitics. Retrieved 2007-12-16. 
  15. ^ (2008). America needs Obama, says ex-Virginia governor. Retrieved August 28, 2008.
  16. ^ Craig, Tim; Jennifer Agiesta (2008-09-24). "Warner Leads Gilmore By 30 Points, Poll Finds: Warner Leads Gilmore By 30 Points, Poll Finds. GOP-Held U.S. Senate Seat From Va. Is at Stake". Washington Post: p. Page B01. Retrieved 2008-09-24. 
  17. ^ Results by county for 2008 Senate election

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Jim Gilmore
Governor of Virginia
Succeeded by
Tim Kaine
Preceded by
Dirk Kempthorne
Chairman of the National Governor's Association
Succeeded by
Mike Huckabee
United States Senate
Preceded by
John Warner
United States Senator (Class 2) from Virginia
January 3, 2009 – present
Served alongside: Jim Webb
Party political offices
Preceded by
Edythe C. Harrison (1984)
Democratic Party nominee for United States Senator (class 2) from Virginia
1996 (lost), 2008 (won)
Succeeded by
Most recent
Preceded by
Donald S. Beyer
Democratic Party nominee for Governor of Virginia
Succeeded by
Tim Kaine
Preceded by
Barack Obama
Keynote Speaker of the Democratic National Convention
Succeeded by
Most recent
United States order of precedence
Preceded by
Jeanne Shaheen
(D-New Hampshire)
United States Senators by seniority
Succeeded by
Jim Risch
Representatives to the 111th United States Congress from Virginia (ordered by seniority)
111th Senate: J. Webb | M. Warner House: F. Wolf | R. Boucher | J. Moran | B. Goodlatte | R. Scott | E. Cantor | A. Forbes | R. Wittman | B. Nye | T. Perrielo | G. Connolly

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