Mark Warner is the Democratic candidate for Virginia’s U.S. Senate seat. The Congressional election is scheduled for Nov. 3, 2020.
He is facing Republican candidate Daniel Gade.
Candidate Name: Mark Warner
Race: U.S. Senate
Biography: The first person in his family to graduate from college, U.S. Sen. Mark Warner spent 20 years as a technology executive and business leader in Virginia before being elected governor on a promise to move the Commonwealth forward.
As governor, he worked across the aisle to bring 130,000 new jobs to the Commonwealth. He also helped lead Virginia into the 21st century with the installation of more than 700 miles of broadband, connecting nearly 700,000 people to the internet. When he left the governor’s office in 2006, Virginia was ranked as the nation’s best state for business, best managed state, and best state in which to receive a public education.
Mark was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2008 and re-elected in 2014.
As Virginia’s senior senator, Mark is focused on the challenges our country faces next, from the out-of-control cost of health care, to climate change, to automation and the future of our economy. He has championed lowering the cost of prescription drugs, fought to protect our natural treasures like the Chesapeake Bay, and found innovative ways to create jobs in Virginia.
Mark believes that our government should be responsible, accountable, and transparent.
When he learned that funding to Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) had lapsed, he passed a law to restore that funding. When he discovered the terrible state of housing for our service members and their families, he passed a law to hold the landlords exploiting them accountable. And, as our country’s deficit climbed to over a trillion dollars, Mark passed a law to make all federal spending information publicly available on the internet.
Mark serves as the vice-chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee and is committed to strengthening our national security. He has been a vocal advocate urging the country to take foreign technology threats seriously. Charged with investigating the extent and impact of Russian meddling in the 2016 election, Mark’s investigation was praised by both Republicans and Democrats for being conducted in a thoughtful, judicious, and bi-partisan manner.
Mark and his wife, Lisa Collis, live in Alexandria. They have three daughters.
Why should Virginians re-elect you to U.S. Senate?
I was first elected to represent the people of Virginia on the promise to move the Commonwealth forward. My commitment to that goal has not changed. Front of mind for me every single day as governor and as the United States senator for Virginia is how to get past the challenges our families and communities face — everything from how to help the Tidewater and the Peninsula grapple with climate change, to making sure every Virginian can retire with dignity (including hundreds of thousands of gig economy workers in our state), to defending the health care of millions of Americans by standing up for the Affordable Care Act.
The COVID-19 pandemic has turned the world upside down, but the way I look at my job has not changed. I wake up every day focused on the path forward for Virginia. This isn’t a time for partisan politics or for campaigning. I’m here to do my job so that millions of Americans can get the help they need. You have my promise that I will be a steadying force as we weather this crisis.
What is the most important legislative issue facing Virginia, and what is your position on it?
I’ll be blunt, the single most pressing issue facing Virginia is the COVID-19 pandemic. This is a moment when it is so important that people feel they can trust their government, trust that they are getting accurate information. It’s a moment when Republicans and Democrats should be speaking with one voice.
Unfortunately, a lot of people rightly don’t trust what they are hearing from the White House. We’ve got a president who initially pretended this thing was nothing, who proposed billions in cuts to the agency that is responsible for responding to viruses like this, and, who has suggested we can just immediately “reopen the economy” before we’ve contained this virus – as if a virus for which we still don’t have a vaccine didn’t just kill more than 80,000 of our fellow Americans. What we need right now is, straight talk, less partisanship, more science, and a coordinated response.
What is the top challenge facing Virginians, and how would you address it if re-elected?
Our top challenge remains expanding economic opportunity for all Virginians in all communities across the Commonwealth. Our economy is strongest when workers and families have access to good-paying jobs and the skills and training they need to succeed. Right now, we face the greatest unemployment crisis America has seen since the Great Depression.
More than 33 million workers around the country have lost their jobs due to the coronavirus pandemic. Millions of these folks have also lost their health insurance. The Federal Reserve forecasts that 47 million Americans, or nearly one-third of the workforce, could lose their jobs. It’s more important now than ever that we invest in our people.
We need to immediately provide assistance to the millions of American workers who have gone overnight from a steady job to unemployment through no fault of their own. I am proposing that we create a national paycheck security program for American workers. It uses a direct support model that has support on both the left and the right.
Here’s how it would work: The federal government would help cover the payroll expenses for rank-and-file workers who have been furloughed or laid off because of the coronavirus through grants from the Treasury Department. These grants would cover salaries and wages up to $90,000 for each employee, plus benefits and run for at least six months. They would also provide funds to many businesses to help cover business operating costs such as rent and utilities. We know this direct support approach works because it has been implemented successfully in several European countries, and in Canada.
In light of Virginia’s recent gun control debates, what, if any, gun laws would you support changing?
We owe it to the victims and families affected by gun violence in communities across the Commonwealth and the nation to take a commonsense approach to prevent future tragedies. I support expanding background checks on gun sales and banning military-style assault weapons. We need to take these widely supported steps to prevent guns from falling into the wrong hands. They will save lives.
What are the top three issues created by the coronavirus pandemic in Virginia, and how would you plan to address them?
Our very first priority has to be protecting the health of our workers and our families. We cannot return to normal until the government, working with the private sector, finally solves the chronic shortages of testing and PPE that have hampered our response to this pandemic from day one. Until a vaccine is developed, we must work towards a “new normal,” where we gradually scale back social distancing where it is safe to do so.
I also want to take this opportunity to say thank you. Thank you to our medical professionals and first responders, but also those who have been deemed essential and are showing up to keep our country running: the grocery store workers, postal workers, folks delivering our food and packages, sanitation workers — the list goes on. We owe it to these folks to follow public health directives, stay home if possible, and do everything we can to slow and stop the spread of coronavirus.
We then need to turn to what it’s going to take for our economy to recover from this crisis. First, we must prevent further job losses, as well as permanent disruptions like business closures, evictions, and foreclosures. Second, we must work quickly to reduce the economic uncertainty facing workers and small businesses.
To address both these issues, I am working to create programs that put paychecks directly in the hands of millions of Americans and help cover business operating costs such as rent and utilities. My proposal is called the Paycheck Security Act and I’m fighting to get it included in the next Coronavirus relief package the Senate passes in the coming weeks.
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