People like Mark Warner. I like Mark Warner. I once participated in a town hall teleconference call of his. He came across as open-minded, willing to listen to other points of view. A Republican delegate in the General Assembly when Warner was governor said that he was very friendly and easy to work with.
Warner has branded himself as a moderate, willing to compromise and work with both sides of the aisle. He calls himself a radical centrist. This seems to be the voting public’s perception.
If only it were true. Warner’s five-and-a-half year Senate voting record shows that he has voted almost exclusively the Democrat party line, otherwise known as President Obama’s agenda. The numbers bear this out. The Virginia GOP claimed that Warner voted for Obama’s stated positions 97 percent of the time. Politifact investigated and ruled this claim as true. In 419 senate roll call votes, Warner voted for Obama’s expressed position 406 times.
But wait. That’s only 28 percent of Warner’s 1,473 roll call votes. What about the other 72 percent? Couldn’t those votes show Warner as much more conservative than the average Democrat?
Some people think so. The National Journal and Open Congress both conducted voting studies which show Warner as one of the most conservative Democratic senators. Warner has sponsored or co-sponsored legislation to approve the Keystone pipeline and to permit drilling for oil and natural gas offshore of Virginia. Unfortunately, this legislation never made it to the Senate floor for a vote. Warner’s complete voting record, however, shows that saying that Warner is one of the most conservative Democrat senators is like saying Joe Smith is one of the most progressive members of the John Birch society.
According to Open Congress, Warner has voted the Democrat party line 92 percent of the time in the current Congress. Over his entire senate term, he has voted against the party 243 times out of about 2700 votes, which still has him voting the party position over nine times out of ten. If one factors in the times he abstained (101), which is not actually voting, his support for Democrat positions climbs to 94.5 percent.
Eliminating every vote except for actual passage of bills (no votes for amendments, procedural motions, impeachments and nominations) presents a different picture. Since 2009, Congress has passed 752 laws according to Congress-summary.com. Warner voted against the Democratic position on three of those laws, hence, supporting the Democratic position 99.6 percent of the time. The three bills were supplemental appropriations for fiscal year 2009 for the Consumer Assistance to Recycle and Save Program, a trade agreement with Columbia, and the Protecting Access to Medicare Act of 2014.
This means that Warner has voted for virtually all major Democratic legislation. He voted for Obamacare, providing the 60th vote and making it filibuster-proof. He has voted for all of the debt ceiling increases and all of the spending bills that have added over $7 trillion to our debt in just over five and a half years. He’s not a budget hawk, at least not with his votes.
My subjective perception of Warner is that he has a moderate temperament. Perhaps he was able to use amendments to make some legislation less progressive. Regardless of how moderate his temperament is, it hasn’t translated to his votes. His efforts to bring more moderate legislation to the Senate floor have largely failed, which was perhaps inevitable in a senate run by Harry Reid.
In any case, Warner’s record lets us know where he stands on issues when it matters—when it’s time to vote. Regardless of his rhetoric, a vote for Mark Warner is a vote for the progressive Democratic agenda of Barack Obama and Harry Reid. He will vote to keep Obamacare, should it come up for repeal. He will vote to raise the debt ceiling and for budgets which add hundreds of billions to our national debt every year. Over 700 of his votes confirm this.
We don’t know how Republican Ed Gillespie will vote should he be elected. He says all the right things at the moment. Like so many other politicians, unfortunately, he could go back on his word. Nevertheless, there is a chance that Gillespie will consistently vote for lower spending, reform of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, repeal of Obamacare, and other measures necessary for fiscal responsibility and constitutionally limited government. We need to vote to give him the opportunity.