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Mark Warner and the (Almost) Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Night

ARLINGTON, Va. — After stringing a hotel ballroom full of supporters along for over four-and-a-half hours — and, himself, being kept in the dark about his professional future by nebulous return results — Sen. Mark Warner made an executive decision to call the still-undecided race in his favor.  

Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., (right), joined on stage by fellow Virginia Democrats Sen. Tim Kaine (far left) and Gov. Terry McAuliffe (left), signals victory as minutes before midnight on Nov. 4 as his wife, Lisa Collis (far right), looks on. (Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

Warner, right, joined on stage by fellow Virginia Democrats Sen. Tim Kaine, far left, and Gov. Terry McAuliffe, left, signals victory as minutes before midnight on Nov. 4 as his wife, Lisa Collis, looks on. (Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

“I think we know about close races in Virginia,” the battle-scarred incumbent — who fell 5 points short of knocking out his predecessor, now-retired five-term Sen. John W. Warner, back in 1996 — joked with guests just minutes before election night furiously ticked to a close.  

The 11th hour appearance (literally) was weirdly scored. Who puts the Pitbull-Kesha collaboration “Timber” and Alabama’s “Dixieland Delight” on the same playlist? And the yawning victory party (one bored-to-tears photog played solitaire for two hours straight) transpired regardless of the fact that network news anchors continued reporting that things were too close to call in the contest between Warner and his Republican opponent, Ed Gillespie.  

Even as the rest of the electoral map broadcast by CNN perilously flooded with red, ardent supporters attempted to keep their cool.

A Mark Warner supporter struts her stuff at the Virginia Democrat's 2014 re-election party. (Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

A Mark Warner supporter struts her stuff at the Virginia Democrat's 2014 re-election party. (Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

“Where is Scott Brown gonna run next? Vermont?” one guy joked to another about the lone Republican candidate to miss the massive wave that granted winning colleagues total control of Capitol Hill.  

Partygoers vied to drain dry the cash bar at Sen. Mark Warner's 2014 re-election party. (Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

Partygoers vied to drain dry the cash bar at Warner's 2014 re-election party. (Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

“George Allen … I don’t think he’s conceded yet,” quipped another, reflecting on the 2012 race weathered by now-Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., rather than focusing on the uncertainty of the current challenge.  

“It’s stuffy in there,” one young man counseled a just-arriving friend, seemingly wanting to attribute the encroaching discomfort on overpopulation rather than mounting desperation.  

Attendees crammed into the Crystal Ballroom at Sen. Mark Warner's 2014 re-election party. (Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

Attendees crammed into the Crystal Ballroom at Warner's party. (Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

After trailing all night in the polls, at least according to the televised projections, Warner et al. stormed onto the stage to declare that the Democrats had, just barely, prevailed.  

“It’s like a Tim Kaine election tonight,” the self-effacing junior senator counseled the in-need-of-a-laugh crowd, adding, “It’s a battleground state: Buy your Maalox, folks.”  

Sen. Tim Kaine introduces his legislative partner and longstanding pal at Mark Warner's 2014 re-election party. (Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

Kaine introduces his legislative partner and longstanding pal at Warner's party. (Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

Then it was Warner’s turn to rally the troops, a task he set upon by touting his progressive principles and deal-making skills.  

Sen. Mark Warner (front) is surrounded by fellow Virginia Democrats Rep.-elect Don Beyer (back left), Rep. Bobby Scott (back center-left), Gov. Terry McAuliffe (back center-right) and Sen. Tim Kaine (back right) while delivering the victory speech at his 2014 re-election party. (Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

Warner (front) is surrounded by fellow Virginia Democrats Rep.-elect Don Beyer (back left), Rep. Bobby Scott (back center-left), Gov. Terry McAuliffe (back center-right) and Kaine (back right) while delivering his speech. (Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

“I’ll work with anyone, Democrat, Republican, you name it, if you are gonna make sure we get our problems solved,” the seasoned coalition builder assured his base.  

First up: cementing a rock-solid recount strategy with legal wiz Marc Elias .  

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