RICHMOND, Va.(WRIC) — A Former Virginia Senator, who served in the U.S Senate for three decades, has died. John Warner passed away on Tuesday from heart failure at the age of 94, leaving behind a legacy for current and future politicians.
8News talked with our political analyst, Rich Meagher, who is a political science professor at Randolph Macon, to shine light on his impact and how he’ll be remembered.
“He was there for generations of Virginians and that by itself would leave a huge legacy,” Meagher said. “But Warner was also a very particular kind of politician; famous for being a celebrity politician.”
Warner was sometimes called a ‘jack of all trades’; he was a veteran, lawyer, senator, and celebrity. He was well-known for his bipartisan leadership, blurring tradition party lines.
Warner’s time in office was highly-respected and he became very popular for marching to the beat of his own drum.
Before his political career, at just 17-years-old, Warner enlisted in the military. He served in the Navy during World War II and in the Marines during the Korean War.
Representing Virginia, John Warner was sworn into the U.S Senate in 1978 and served five terms before retiring in 2009.
While in office, Warner focused a majority of his legislative efforts on military support, foreign policy and national security issues.
“That foreign policy, national security, armed services legislation is what he felt most proud of,” Meagher said.
Meagher goes on to say that he wasn’t your typical Republican and made decisions based on what was best for the country, despite party affiliation.
“He supported some gun rights bills and some gun control bills, he supported climate change legislation, he was not as much as a hard line on abortion and gay rights,” Meagher told 8News. “So he was famously willing to follow what he thought was the best policy and not what his party told him to do.”
Warner was successful at working with leaders on both sides of the aisle, which boosted his popularity.
“Most politicians were much more boring than he was,” Meagher added.
Warner was married to actress Elizabeth Taylor for six years. Bringing Hollywood glamour to politics, the two brought celebrity buzz to Capitol Hill.
Meagher said to understand the buzz that it did bring, it would be similar to Senator Corey Booker marrying a Kardashian.
Warner passed away peacefully at his home in Alexandria with his wife, Jeanne Vander Myde, and daughter by his side. Funeral arrangements have not yet been announced.