John Warner, Genteel Senator from Virginia, Dies at 94

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tags: Virginia, US Senate, John Warner

Senator John W. Warner of Virginia, the genteel former Navy secretary who shed the image of a dilettante to become a leading Republican voice on military policy during 30 years in the Senate, died on Tuesday night at his home in Alexandria, Va. He was 94.

Susan Magill, his former chief of staff, said the cause was heart failure.

For a time Mr. Warner may have been best known nationally as the dashing sixth husband of the actress Elizabeth Taylor. Her celebrity was a draw on the campaign trail during his difficult first race for the Senate in 1978, an election he won narrowly to start his political career. The couple divorced in 1982.

In the latter stages of his congressional service, Mr. Warner was recognized as a protector of the Senate’s traditions and credited with trying to forge bipartisan consensus on knotty issues like the Iraq war, judicial nominations and the treatment of terror detainees.

Though a popular figure in his state, Mr. Warner was often at odds with Virginia conservatives. He became the Republican nominee in his first campaign only after the man who had defeated him at a state party convention was killed in a plane crash.

He angered the National Rifle Association with his backing of an assault weapons ban. He infuriated some state Republicans in 1994 when he refused to support Oliver L. North, the former White House aide at the center of the Iran-contra scandal during the Reagan administration, in Mr. North’s bid for the Senate. And he opposed Reagan’s ultimately unsuccessful Supreme Court nomination of Judge Robert H. Bork.

Read entire article at New York Times