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Longtime Republican US senator John Warner will not seek sixth term

Longtime Republican US senator John Warner will not seek sixth term

Republican Sen. John Warner, one of the most authoritative voices in Congress on the military and a key figure in the debate over Iraq, said he will not seek a sixth term in 2008.
Warner, 80, was elected in 1978, after the dashing former Navy secretary campaigned alongside his wife at the time, actress Elizabeth Taylor.
Warner is leaving what would have been a safe seat for the Republicans in Virginia if he had chosen to run again. His departure gives Democrats a better chance to protect or even expand their one-seat majority in the Senate.
Warner said Friday that he still feels spry enough for the rigors of the Senate, but he did not want to push it for another six-year term. He cited his age and recalled the strain of a recent trip to Iraq.
"It was day and night, jumping on and off helicopters, cargo planes, shaking hands, quickly eating and moving on," Warner said. He said that he withstood it, but didn't know if he could do so again years later.
"I want to be fair to this wonderful state, which has been eminently fair to me all these years," Warner said.
Warner, former chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, has long been an important voice in the Iraq debate because of his military expertise and his willingness to question White House war policy.
After his trip to Iraq, Warner said President George W. Bush should start bringing some troops home by Christmas. If Bush refused, Warner said, he would consider backing anti-war legislation. The statement was the senator's strongest to oppose the White House and is expected to influence the Iraq debate this fall.
Bush on Friday called Warner "one of the most dedicated senators in American history."
"Five presidents have relied on his steady judgment, wise counsel, and candid advice," Bush said in a statement. "With Senator Warner's retirement, the Senate will lose one of its most independent and widely-respected voices and the Commonwealth of Virginia will lose one of its fiercest advocates."
The most likely Democratic contender in the November 2008 congressional election is former Gov. Mark R. Warner, a wealthy businessman who left office in early 2006 with unprecedented job-approval ratings. Mark Warner, who is not related to the senator, unsuccessfully challenged him in the 1996 Senate race.
The nomination battle among Republicans will probably include former Gov. Jim Gilmore and U.S. Rep. Thomas M. Davis.
The Republican Party nominated Warner for the Senate in 1978 after the party's first choice, Richard Obenshain, was killed in a plane crash. Warner was elected by just 4,721 votes out of 1.2 million cast. He was easily re-elected in 1984 and 1990. He beat Mark Warner by 5 percentage points in 1996 and was unopposed in 2002.
Democratic Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton said she will miss her "friend and colleague."
"At a time when the tone in Washington is so often defined by partisanship and rancor, Senator Warner has always risen above the fray," Clinton said.
In 1996, the conservative wing of his own party tried to deny Warner a fourth term. Warner had angered conservatives two years earlier by opposing Republican nominee Oliver North's bid to unseat Democratic Sen. Charles S. Robb. Warner declared the Iran-Contra figure unfit for public office and backed an independent who drew enough votes from moderates to ensure Robb's re-election.
Angered by what they viewed as party disloyalty, Republican conservatives backed former Reagan administration budget director Jim Miller to challenge Warner for renomination. Warner easily defeated Miller in a primary.
Warner mended his relationship with his party by supporting the successful campaigns of Gilmore for governor in 1997 and George Allen for Robb's Senate seat in 2000.


Updated : 2021-05-13 12:20 GMT+08:00