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Return to Richmond for Warner?
Warner ahead of Republicans in early polling on gubernatorial race

 Mark Warner, shown with wife Lisa Collis, may run for governor of Virginia again.
Steve Helber/ASSOCIATED PRESS
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Date published: 11/15/2012

BY CHELYEN DAVIS

In Virginia, the end of a presidential campaign season means the start of another--the next year's statewide campaigns.

Virginia and New Jersey are the only states with off-year governor's races. Virginia will also elect a new lieutenant governor and attorney general next year.

Given how modern campaigns work--and how long they last--candidates have been lining up for those three jobs for months now. Already five Republicans are running for lieutenant governor; former state Sen. Jeannemarie Davis made her candidacy official on Wednesday.

Also on Wednesday, a new poll on next year's governor's race showed that if he chooses to run, U.S. Sen. Mark Warner has a hefty lead over the two Republicans already in the race.

Quinnipiac University's poll shows Warner at 53 percent to Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling's 33 percent, and 52 percent to Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli's 34 percent.

Warner has been coy about his plans, not ruling out a run for the office he held from 2002 to 2006. He told reporters last week that he would announce a decision by Thanksgiving.

But he also said he is still "obsessed" with federal debt and deficit issues--Warner has been one of a bipartisan group of senators trying to find ways to slow federal spending. After Democrat Tim Kaine's winning of Virginia's other Senate seat last week, Kaine said he hopes Warner will stay in the Senate because he has played an important role in building bridges between members of the two parties there.

Warner might also find less to encourage him deeper in the poll; while he leads the two Republicans, only 18 percent of those polled said they would prefer to see him run for governor, rather than stay in the Senate.

If he does run, Warner would face competition for the nomination from Democrat Terry McAuliffe. McAuliffe has been saying for months that he wanted to run if Warner didn't; last week he told supporters in an email that he's definitely in the race.

Without Warner in the mix, McAuliffe polls at 38 percent to Bolling's 36 percent, and 41 percent to Cuccinelli's 37 percent--all pretty close.


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