Republicans Should Back Changed Warner

By Cunningham, Charles H. | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), June 20, 1996 | Go to article overview

Republicans Should Back Changed Warner


Cunningham, Charles H., The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


I was one of the more than 9,000 delegates to the 1978 Republican State Convention held at the Richmond Coliseum.

Richard D. Obenshain was my candidate. In fact, he and his campaign were the catalyst for my initial involvement in the political process that has continued for nearly two decades. Mr. Obenshain won the Republican nomination for the Senate on the sixth ballot at that convention.

Tragically, Mr. Obenshain was killed in a plane crash Aug. 4, 1978 - a loss of leadership in the conservative movement and Republican Party in Virginia still felt today. A couple weeks after the funeral, the state Republican Central Committee selected John Warner as the party's nominee for the Senate.

I, along with most other Obenshain activists, supported Mr. Warner in the general election, something many would argue today was a mistake. As the Republican nominee, Mr. Warner expected and received strong support from party activists of virtually all stripes despite the lingering negative effects of a divided convention. As a result, Mr. Warner won a close race against Andrew Miller that November.

Mr. Warner was uncontested for renomination at the 1984 state convention. After his easy re-election against Edie Harrison that year, Mr. Warner changed. Only last year he received a 50 percent rating on the Christian Coalition Congressional Scorecard. His voting record became much less conservative and he made fewer attempts to attend Republican functions and communicate with party activists. This trend continued for more than a decade until about a year ago.

In 1993, Mr. Warner publicly refused to endorse Mike Farris, the Republican nominee for lieutenant governor. In doing so, he legitimized the partisan character attacks on Mr. Farris in the minds of the media and much of the electorate.

Then, as the world now knows, Mr. Warner actively opposed Oliver North. After failing in his public efforts to derail the North nomination and to impose his will on the state convention, Mr. Warner recruited Marshall Coleman - the Harold Stassen of Virginia politics - to play the role of spoiler in the general election.

In addition, Mr. Warner to this day repeatedly defends Sen. Charles Robb and much of Mr. Robb's voting record despite the fact that, in many cases, it cancels out his own vote on many key issues.

On June 12, after being forced to spend time with the peasants and spend millions of dollars, 18-year incumbent Mr. Warner defeated James C. Miller III in a supposedly Republican primary election. Despite a solid victory, it must have been a humbling experience for Mr. …

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