10 Things You Didn’t Know About Mark Warner

The popular former Virginia governor won a seat in the U.S. Senate.


1. Warner's interest in politics came from his eighth-grade social studies teacher, Jim Tyler, who inspired him to work for social and political change during the tumultuous year of 1968.

2. While attending high school in Vernon, Conn., Mark Warner was class president for three years. He hosted a weekly pick-up basketball game at his house, a tradition that continues today.

3. Warner studied political science at George Washington University. He was the valedictorian for the class of 1977 and the first in his family to graduate from college. During his time there, he worked on Capitol Hill to help pay the bills, riding his bike early in the mornings to the office of Connecticut Senator Abe Ribicoff.

4. When Mark Warner's parents were visiting him during his college years at George Washington University, he got them two tickets for a tour of the White House. When his Dad asked Mark why he didn't get a ticket for himself, Mark replied, "I'll see the White House when I'm president."

5. While attending Harvard Law School, Warner coached the school's first women's intramural basketball team. Despite having a law degree from Harvard, Warner never worked as a lawyer.

6. In 1984, Warner met his wife, Lisa Collis, at a keg party in Washington, D.C. While on their honeymoon in 1989 exploring Egypt and Greece, Warner fell ill. When they returned home, doctors discovered he had suffered a burst appendix. He spent two months in the hospital recovering from the near fatal illness.

7. After failed business ventures in energy and real estate, Warner became a telecommunications tycoon in the emerging cellphone industry. As an early investor in Nextel, he made a fortune overnight when he sold his stock in 1996.

8. In 1996 it was Warner vs. Warner on the ballot for U.S. Senator from Virginia. Mark Warner attempted to win the seat against longtime incumbent Republican Sen. John Warner. John Warner held the seat for 30 years until he decided not to seek re-election in 2008.

9. At his Virginia farm, Warner grows 15 acres of grapes for Ingleside Vineyards. The vintner bottles a private label that Warner offers at charity auctions.

10. With Warner's win, Virginia has two Democratic senators for the first time since 1970, when Harry Byrd Jr. left the Democratic Party to become an independent.