Correction to This Article
An Oct. 17 Metro article about the U.S. Senate campaign in Virginia incorrectly said that Steve Jarding managed John W. Warner's gubernatorial campaign. Jarding managed Mark R. Warner's 2001 campaign for governor.

Warners on the Stump

Sen. John Warner, left, with Sen. George Allen in a TV ad, described Allen as
Sen. John Warner, left, with Sen. George Allen in a TV ad, described Allen as "a principled man." (Associated Press)
By Michael D. Shear and Tim Craig
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The contest between Virginia Sen. George Allen (R) and Democratic challenger James Webb could be influenced by who's got the better Warner.

Webb campaigned yesterday with former governor Mark R. Warner (D), who remains immensely popular with Virginia voters despite his decision Thursday to back out of the 2008 presidential race. In a Washington Post poll taken last week, 73 percent of voters had a favorable impression of him.

Meanwhile, Allen stood side by side last night with Sen. John Warner (R) in a two-minute commercial broadcast on television stations statewide. Warner, the state's senior senator, is almost as popular as the former governor, according to the Post poll, which listed Warner's favorability at 66 percent.

The two Warners battled 10 years ago, when Mark Warner asked voters to elect "Mark, not John" as he unsuccessfully sought John Warner's Senate seat. They have since become friends, but now are competing again in a politically charged October, with only three weeks until the Nov. 7 election.

"This is a good man," Mark Warner said of Webb as the two campaigned at the Greenspring Village retirement community in Springfield. "If you have friends, relatives, . . . kids that live around here -- make sure they know what you already know, what is at stake in this election. Let's take back our country, and let's start right here in Virginia."

In front of about 300 residents, Mark Warner pleaded with the audience to get out and support Webb, whom the former governor called an "independent voice" that is needed in the Senate. After announcing last week that he will not run for president, Warner vowed yesterday to do all he can to help elect Webb.

"I'll have a little bit more time now to campaign with Jim," Warner said. "I am going to put all my energy behind this effort."

Webb advisers believe Mark Warner can play a critical role in helping them woo women and rural voters, two groups that recent polls indicate Webb needs to do better with.

In 2001, Mark Warner was elected in part because he reached out to rural voters, particularly in southwest Virginia, where he garnered 100,000 more votes than then-incumbent senator Charles S. Robb (D) had the year before when he lost to Allen. And polls just before Election Day in 2001 had suggested Warner was the clear favorite of women.

"I'm biased, but I would take the governor as opposed to the senator," said Webb consultant Steve Jarding, who managed John Warner's gubernatorial campaign.

John Warner and Webb were former secretaries of the Navy; Webb served on Warner's staff when Warner was at the Pentagon. Warner has never publicly criticized Webb, having once tried to recruit the former Republican to run for the Senate seat that Allen now holds.

But the senior Virginia senator has made it clear he's supporting Allen in the current contest, partly out of self-interest. If the GOP loses control of the Senate, Warner would have to give up the chairmanship of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

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