If U.S. Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., were to make another run for governor of Virginia, there’s a good chance he’d win, a new poll said.
Warner, a former governor, remains a very popular figure in Virginia and he’s currently the only Virginia Democrat with a clear shot at recapturing the governor’s mansion and restoring political balance in Richmond in 2013, according to a Public Policy Polling survey released Thursday.
Warner has not publicly stated an interest in another term in the governor's office and would have to vacate his Senate seat, but he would easily defeat any Republican opponent, the poll shows.
Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell can’t run for reelection because Virginia’s constitution bars governors from running for successive terms, making it a wide open race every four years.
If the election were today, the Republican nominee would likely be Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, the poll shows. In a matchup against fellow Republican Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling and famed White House party crasher Tareq Salahi, Cuccinelli wins easily, pulling in 51 percent of votes from Republican voters, compared to Bolling’s 23 percent and Salahi’s 4 percent.
Cuccinelli’s high marks are a credit to his name recognition and rising star in conservative circles, thanks to his recent showdowns with President Obama’s administration over healthcare and environmental regulations.
Twice as many people have formed an opinion of Cuccinelli than Bolling, the poll showed, though he’s also a much more polarizing figure, with a 37 percent disapproval rating to 30 percent approval.
The most likely to cast ballots in a Republican primary contest — those who identified themselves as “very conservative” — chose Cuccinelli over Bolling 64 percent to 20 percent. But Warner would still top Cuccinelli in the general election, 53 percent to 33 percent.
Among Democrats more likely to run, it’s a much tighter race, and Bolling, who has McDonnell’s backing, actually gives Republicans a better chance beating a Democrat.
Bolling would beat former Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe 36 percent to 34 percent and former congressman Tom Perriello 35 percent to 34 percent. However, both McAuliffe and Periello edge out Cuccinelli.
Bolling and Cuccinelli are the only candidates to officially announce their intentions to run. The Democratic side is much more speculative with most potential contenders insisting no formal announcements will come until after the November presidential election.
The poll did not include Sen. Chap Petersen, D-Fairfax, who has indicated interest in running for governor.