John Warner’s “golden silence”

The Republican splits, real, imagined and otherwise, over the current statewide ticket and specifically, EW Jackson’s place on it, are the new campaign narrative. It’s not driven entirely by the press, though it is one they are eager to explore. Rather, the doubts advanced by Republicans themselves, as we see in this RTD piece in which a cast of characters is given an opportunity to opine on the ticket. The story’s headline refers to former Sen. John Warner’s broodings. And while they are limited, they also pack a wallop:

Warner, who left office in January 2009, has raised concerns about his party before. In 1994, for instance, he backed J. Marshall Coleman’s independent bid for the U.S. Senate, rather than endorse Oliver L. North, the Republican nominee.

As for the current contretemps, Warner said he is paying close attention to “this situation in the state.”

“Each person in our state’s got to make their own judgment,” he said, adding, “on that issue, I maintain a golden silence — because the facts are clear for all to interpret.”

Ah, the golden silence. Warner’s use of Harry Byrd’s short hand for refusing to back Democratic presidential nominees back in the day (in part to maintain both the viability of, and his power over, Virginia Democrats) is the equivalent of kicking the current Republican ticket in the teeth. If Warner still has sway within the Virginia GOP, his silence is ominous. Whether he does is an open question. But it is beyond question that some within the ranks view the current ticket, and Jackson in particular, as a long-term threat to the party’s viability.

For those unfamiliar with the context, here’s a bit of background from Frank Atkinson’s Dynamic Dominion: