WASHINGTON – An 80-year-old John Warner may not run for a sixth term as Virginia's senior senator, but has kept mum so far, possibly to help Republican Rep. Tom Davis get a leg up for what would become a toss-up seat, sources close to the action say.
"There has been considerable discussion about the possibility that [Warner] might delay an announcement of candidacy, then announce he wasn't going to run, to allow Congressman Tom Davis to build up at the beginning of the campaigns, which would give Davis an advantage," Morton C. Blackwell, chairman of Virginia's Republican National Committee and head of the Leadership Institute, told The Washington Times.
Warner's campaign coffers offer the latest clue that he may be preparing to step down when his seat comes up for a vote in 2008. Filings with the Federal Election Commission show he raised just $500 during the first quarter of this year. Warner's chief of staff Susan Magill also stepped down last year.
Besides Davis, potential replacements for Warner also include Kate Griffin, former chairwoman of the state Republican Party, and former Gov. James Gilmore, who is currently pursuing a White House bid.
Virginia Republican Reps. J. Randy Forbes, Robert W. Goodlatte and Eric Cantor have also expressed interest in the seat. Any Republican primary winner could face a potential challenge from former Gov. Mark R. Warner, a Democrat frequently mentioned as a possible vice presidential candidate.