Former U.S. Sen. John Warner, a Republican, announced his endorsement Monday of Democrat Sen. Mark Warner's bid for another term in the U.S. Senate.
While endorsing his successor, John Warner bypassed a former chairman of his party, Ed Gillespie, who announced his intention to run for the nomination on Jan. 16 in a Web video to supporters. He chaired Bob McDonnell’s 2009 campaign for governor and currently oversees the Republican State Leadership Committee.
Gillespie's only challenger in the Republican primary so far is Shak Hill, an Allstate agent, according to Politico. Another Republican, Howie Lind, announced Monday he was dropping out of the race. The filing deadline is Saturday.
Gillespie said in a written statement: "I respect Senator John Warner for his service to our country and our commonwealth, and respect his right to support the candidate of his choice in this race."
The Warner endorsement was announced by Sen. Mark Warner's campaign office. John Warner gave a telephone interview Monday to the Associated Press.
John Warner represented Virginians for 30 years during five terms in the U.S. Senate. It's the first time the Republican former Senator has publicly endorsed a Democrat for elected office in Virginia, according to the campaign news release.
"John Warner praised his successor, also a centrist, for seeking bipartisan solutions," The Associated Press reported.
"'You see him [Mark Warner] crossing that aisle to try to form teams to solve problems,' John Warner said. 'That's so essential.'
'There are times you must, I think, recognize that certain individuals are superior in their talents and in what they have done and can potentially do for your state,' John Warner said.
'Mark Warner, if I may say with a sense of humility, like John Warner crosses the aisle and makes things work," he said. 'We come from the old school. The Senate works best when there's collaborative effort between the two parties.’”
Sen. Mark Warner made the following statement in response to Sen. John Warner’s endorsement:
“John Warner has been a role model as I’ve worked across party lines to find commonsense solutions that strengthen Virginia, both during my term as Governor and now as a member of the Senate,” Mark Warner said.
“I have followed John Warner’s solid example by creating opportunities to reach across the aisle to solve problems. I have worked hard to form personal relationships with other lawmakers from both political parties to win bipartisan support for our efforts to fix the budget and strengthen Virginia’s economy. I am very grateful for John Warner’s public support, and respectful of our working partnership and personal friendship,” Mark Warner said.
In 1996, Mark Warner unsuccessfully challenged John Warner’s bid for re-election to a third term in the Senate.
After John Warner announced his retirement from the U.S. Senate in 2007, Mark Warner declared his candidacy for the open seat, and Virginians elected him to the U.S. Senate in 2008.