Mullins op-ed: Challenging Warner

By Pat Mullins

We’re not quite done with Election 2013 yet, but November 2014 is just 11 months away. And if it’s election season, it’s time for the Virginia press corps to begin asking hard questions about Republican candidates, or people who might become candidates.

schapiro_hairThe venerable Jeff Schapiro is the first out of the gate this cycle. Recently, he penned a missive that attempted to paint Ed Gillespie (who isn’t even a declared candidate) as the second coming of Terry McAuliffe.

Given the kid glove treatment the former GreenTech money man has received, that’s more than a little rich. I haven’t been a practicing journalist for several decades, but it seems to me that perhaps, just perhaps, the time to talk about Terry McAuliffe’s negative qualities was before Election Day.

But like I said, I’m not a professional journalist.

ed_gillespieEd Gillespie would make a great candidate if he decides to get in the race — which explains Jeff’s nascent obsession with fault-finding. I have no doubt that our two declared candidates, Howie Lind and Shak Hill — both of whom would make a far better U.S. Senator than Mark Warner — will get their turn in the media’s barrel as well in the not too distant future.

Negative press for GOP candidates is to be expected. As a fellow Republican told me just the other day, “Never expect to get covered like the home team. Republicans are always the visitors.”

But it does strike me as odd that not one Virginia journalist has yet to ask serious questions of Mark Warner about his record. What exactly has Mark Warner done? Other than casting the 60th vote that gave us ObamaCare — after promising that he wouldn’t vote for a health care law that would take away health insurance you liked — not much.

Unless you count his votes against allowing Virginia to drill offshore, or his votes to allow the EPA to move forward with damaging anti-global warming rules that will drive up the cost of electricity and further damage Virginia’s coal industry. Or his vote for the sequester, which he then promptly began to denounce as a bad idea.

There are countless stories of people in Virginia who have lost their insurance under Obamacare. Mothers who can’t take their children to the pediatricians they’ve come to know and trust, cancer patients who are losing access to lifesaving specialist treatments because their old plan didn’t meet Barack Obama’s standard. All of this, and more, can clearly and cleanly be laid at Mark Warner’s feet.

smugwarnerMark Warner could have stopped ObamaCare, but he chose not to. And when Republicans tried to change the rules to let people keep their existing insurance if they liked it, Mark Warner voted no. This is Mark Warner’s legacy — tens of thousands of Virginians who have lost their insurance, and many, many more who will wind up paying through the nose.

We hear stories from people like this all the time. They’re not hard to find. And yet their stories rarely show up in the Virginia press, and certainly never in the context of asking Mark Warner about how his vote cost them their insurance. But it’s early. Maybe Jeff and his colleagues just haven’t gotten around to it yet.

I eagerly look forward to Jeff Schapiro’s conversation with Mark Warner about the Affordable Care Act, and the subsequent column where Mark Warner is held to account for his repeated pronouncement that he wouldn’t vote for a bill that would take away health insurance that Virginians liked.

I’m not going to hold my breath. But I might double-check for Jeff’s name on Mark Warner’s in-kind contribution statements.

Pat Mullins is chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia

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