WASHINGTON – Senator John W. Warner of Virginia, the distinguished former Secretary of the Navy who cast the image of a dilettante to become a leading Republican voice on military policy for 30 years in the Senate, died Tuesday evening at his home in Alexandria, Virginia. was 94.
Susan Magill, his former chief of staff, said the cause was heart failure.
Mr. Warner was perhaps for a time best known nationally as the dashing sixth husband of actress Elizabeth Taylor. His fame was a campaign draw during his difficult first Senate race in 1978, an election he narrowly won to begin his political career. The couple divorced in 1982.
In the later stages of his congressional service, Mr. Warner was also recognized as a protector of Senate traditions and was credited with attempting to forge a bipartisan consensus on thorny issues like the war in Iraq, judicial appointments and the treatment of terrorist detainees.
Despite being a popular figure in his state, Mr. Warner often disagreed with conservatives in Virginia. He became the Republican candidate in his first campaign only after the man who defeated him at a state party convention was killed in a plane crash.
He angered the National Rifle Association with its continued support for the ban on assault weapons and infuriated some Republicans in the state in 1994 when he refused to support Oliver L. North, the former aide to the White House at the center of the Iran-contra scandal, in its attempt. for the Senate. And he opposed the Supreme Court’s appointment of Justice Robert H. Bork.
But his support within the majority party, coupled with support for independents drawn to his moderate views on social issues such as abortion and gay rights, enabled him to push back challenges from both right and left. He won the election for his fifth and final term in 2002 against token opposition.
Mr Warner announced in August 2007 that he would not be running in 2008, noting that he would be 88 if he completed his tenure and telling his friends he wondered if he would have the energy for the demanding work. His death was reported on Wednesday by Politico.
A full obituary will be published shortly.