Wednesday, April 15, 2009

A Man for Our Neck of the Woods

Sen. Mark Warner (right) with Carilion CEO Ed Murphy this morning^

The more often Sen. Mark Warner comes through here, the more impressed with him I am. I've known him for a number of years, predating any political office. I met him at a fundraiser at the Salem home of Ted Rappaport, the former Virginia Tech engineering professor who was, as we once called him at the Blue Ridge Business Journal, "the Michael Jordan of cellular technology."

Ted's at the University of Texas these days, virtually operating his own school there and Warner, of course, went on to serve as governor and now senator. I remember that after meeting him the first time, I said, "He's going to be governor some day." It took about eight years.

He has always been smart, eager, outgoing and willing to listen to all comers for as long a time as they want to speak. He's like a sponge with the information. I sat in two different meetings with him today as he toured the state for town hall meetings and the story was the same: he was up on every issue, had an opinion, was willing to listen to others.

More than anything else, though, I appreciate that Mark--who has lived in Northern Virginia for many years--knows we're out here in the west. He has become our senator, moreso than any other I can recall. He was our governor, the first since Linwood Holton (and I'm counting Radford's John Dalton, who was from Radford, but didn't seem to pay much attention to us during his days in the mansion, as I recall). Mark Warner has worn a path to our door and, after we voted for him (and even after a good number of us didn't), he remembered us and he continues to.

We have two good senators in Virginia (Jim Webb being the other), but just one is a westerner . That's Mark Warner even though Webb grew up in far Southwest Virginia.

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