It is a rumor that has been percolating in political circles for months and this morning I can confirm that Sen. Mark Warner (D-Virginia) is indeed considering a run for Governor of Virginia, a seat he once held.
Warner told me in September that it was "no secret" that sometimes found the work in the Senate "frustrating". However at that time and in several other interviews he refused to say that he was considering a run for governor.
Warner essentially did not address the topic directly, saying instead that he wanted to focus on the 2012 elections.
The 2012 elections are behind us and a source close to Warner tells me that he is going to take a "deep breath" and then huddle with his family to consider his options.
Warner is expected to make a final decision around Thanksgiving.
If Warner does indeed decide to run for governor he would automatically be considered the front runner. The democratic field, which currently consists of only former DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe, would clear giving him an open path to the nomination. Warner, who polls show enjoys wide popularity, would be considered the strong favorite against either of the announced republican candidates, Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling or Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli.
It would also begin a scramble to replace Warner in the Senate. The democrat was elected to a six year term back in 2008 and isn't up for re-election until 2014. If he runs for governor and wins in 2013, it would leave a full year on his term. It could be an opportunity for current Gov. Bob McDonnell, who like Warner is popular and given Mitt Romney's loss, will be looking for a job when his term ends in 2013.
Expect Warner to weigh the prospects of making any progress in Washington on the key issue that he has focused on during his time in the Senate: reducing the mounting debt and deficit. Having his ally and longtime friend Tim Kaine in Washington could make Warner feel comfortable that there will be someone there to take on that bi-partisan challenge.
Kaine is hoping Warner will stay to work with him in Washington. In his post-election press conference, Kaine said he hopes Warner isn't going anywhere.
"I really want Mark to stay," Kaine said. "What Mark is doing with the Gang of 6 is important and is not just fiscal. It is this effort to rebuild these traditions of comity in that the Senate, party is less important than country and party is even less important than the individual relationship."
Kaine said Warner will be the one to make the decision, but he will make it clear what he wants him to do.
"He is playing a really important role," Kaine said. "I hope he will continue in that role."
Finally, and even though no one from the Warner camp is willing to say this publicly, there is no doubt that Warner is weighing this next move against his potential as a future candidate for president. The 2016 field is wide open on both sides and Warner may be trying to determine if he would be better positioned to mount a run as a Senator attempting to broker compromise in a gridlocked congress, or as a rare two-term governor from a prosperous state who can tout his executive experience.
Kaine's comments on Warner from this morning's press conference can be found below: