Virginia Sen. Mark Warner, a member of the Democratic Party, was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2008 and is seeking a second term for the 2014 election. He currently serves on the Senate Finance, Banking, Budget and Intelligence committees.
Warner was the first member of his family to graduate from college. He earned his bachelor’s degree in political science at George Washington University and was the valedictorian for the class of 1977. According to an article in US News, Warner then went to Harvard Law School, where he coached the school’s first intramural basketball team and earned his Juris Doctorate in 1980.
According to his website, Warner was an early investor in Nextel, which he helped co-found. His early investments in the cellular telephone business and hundreds of startup technology companies have allowed him to build up a net worth of more than $250 million, making him the richest Democratic Senator in the current Congress.
Warner served as governor of Virginia from 2002 to 2006, where he focused on improving public education and expanding economic opportunity. His website states that during this time, he collaborated with Democrats and Republicans to turn record budget deficits into a surplus, and he recruited 135,000 new jobs to Virginia. He also focused on improving public education and expanding economic opportunity in every region of the state.
According to Warner’s website, when he left his position as governor in 2006, Virginia was recognized as the nation’s best-managed state, with particular emphasis placed on the state’s business and educational opportunities.
During his time in the Senate, Warner strove to reduce the federal debt by finding bipartisan compromises to create balanced solutions, according to his website. In 2011, he organized the Gang of Six, consisting of three Democrats and three Republicans, to try to find a bipartisan solution to the nation’s deficit.
Warner’s website also states that he has made it a priority to help small businesses and startup companies to succeed. In order to do this, he plans to reduce unnecessary costs and embrace innovative funding tools. He also believes in the importance of supporting military families and veterans and helped improve military housing in Hampton Roads.
He currently lives with his wife, Lisa Collis, and their three daughters in Alexandria, Virginia.
Q: Why should a college student vote for you?
A: Students at Liberty University, and across the country, deserve to have public officials who are willing to reach across the aisle to provide college students with a fair shot at success.
As both governor of Virginia and now as your senator, I have worked with Republicans and Democrats to create jobs, make government more transparent, and embrace new funding methods that provide entrepreneurs with easier access to capital. I believe that with the right policies that allow startups to thrive, we can create the next Google or Facebook right here in the Commonwealth.
At nearly every stop on the campaign trail, I also hear about the burden of student debt. That is why I have introduced specific proposals that would help borrowers pay down their loans by capping loan repayment obligations at 10 percent of your income and providing employers with the option to offer $5,000 pre-tax to help employees pay off their
Q: What, if any, legislation could be considered to give religious institutions, such as Liberty University, the right to be exempt from federal mandates that violate their conscience?
A: I continue to support the right of all Virginians to practice their religious beliefs without government over-reach.
Q: What plans do you have or support to help alleviate student loan debt while simultaneously ensuring quality higher education?
A: I continue to work across the aisle in the Senate to find bipartisan solutions that make college more affordable and to find reforms that have graduates pay down their student loan debt.
Before students go off to college, I am working to encourage more high school students to use Pell grants in order to take community college classes. I also introduced a bill with Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio called “Know Before You Go,” which allows students and their families to be better informed before they go to college through one easy-to-use website.
For those who will graduate with student loans, I have proposed bipartisan ideas that change the way we deal with student debt. These include creating a streamlined, income-based repayment system for borrowers and an option for employers to pay down an employee’s already existing student debt, tax-free. Nobody should go broke just because they go to college.
Q: What is your position on abortion?
A: I trust the women of Virginia to make their own health care decisions in conjunction with their families and their doctors.
Q: With the recent spread of terrorism, particularly ISIS, how do you think the U.S. should respond?
A: I have urged the administration to come to Congress with a clear strategy and political and military options for eliminating the ISIL threat. The United States should not take any military options off the table, because stopping ISIL is in the national security and foreign policy interests of the U.S. and our European allies. We need to see the Iraqis, other partners across the region and our European allies in NATO stand up and stand together against the ISIL threat.
Q: What are your thoughts on the use of executive action?
A: On big issues important to the American people, like immigration or the authorization of our military, I believe the best way to come to an effective and comprehensive solution is to go through the legislative process.
Q: What are your top three priorities concerning congressional legislation?
A: If we are going to be able to make the kinds of smart investments needed to grow our economy, then we have to find bipartisan solutions that get our balance sheet in order. We cannot pass on our nation’s debt to your generation. We need to deal with tax reform and entitlement reform, because otherwise, we come back to stupid things like sequestration that cuts the military, education, infrastructure and research. Those areas — especially education, infrastructure and research — will create the economic growth of the future.
Another priority is to make it easier for businesses to grow. We need to reduce unnecessary costs for startups through initiatives like my bipartisan bill, the STARTUP Act, and embrace innovative funding tools, like crowdfunding.
Finally, I believe we must make college more affordable and reduce the burden of student debt for your generation and for generations to come. As I mentioned earlier, I have introduced numerous bipartisan bills to make college more affordable and encourage recent graduates to better manage student debt.
Q: What separates you from other candidates?
A: I have a proven record and remain committed to working across the aisle to find solutions that move Virginia forward. When I was governor, I worked with a Republican-led legislature to turn a $6 billion deficit into a $1 billion surplus.
Since joining the Senate, I have partnered with both Republicans and Democrats to pay down our national deficit, provide entrepreneurs with the right tools to succeed and ensure that no one goes broke going to college.
I truly believe that compromise does not have to be a dirty word in politics. I am proud to be endorsed by Republican former U.S. Sen. John Warner, Republican former Gov. Linwood Holton and 14 former Republican legislators for re-election. I will continue to roll up my sleeves and find common ground so that we can keep moving Virginia forward.