Republican incumbent: John Warner (not seeking reelection)
Democratic candidate: Mark Warner
Republican candidate: Jim Gilmore
Mark Warner, 53, was governor from 2002 to 2006. He is not related to John Warner. In 1996, John Warner beat Mark Warner in the general election for this Senate seat.
Gilmore, 58, was Virginia's attorney general from 1994 to 1998, and its governor from 1998 to 2002.
Virginia bans its governors from serving consecutive terms. Many states had such requirements in the past, but apparently Virginia is the only state where that restriction survives. Because of that term limit, restless ex-governors are constantly lurking, seeking new offices. In recent years, Chuck Robb and George Allen moved from the governor's office to the Senate. And it's not surprising that, this year, two ex-governors are seeking this Senate seat.
According to Real Clear Politics, polls show leads of around 25 points for Warner.
I wrote an earlier post about the state of the parties in Virginia. In 2006, Democrat Jim Webb defeated incumbent Republican George Allen for the other Senate seat. All signs point toward a continued resurgence for Virginia Democrats. However, conventional wisdom has it that this does not have implications for the southeastern states more generally, in that it largely reflects Democratic gains in the Northern Virginia suburbs of Washington, DC, which are said to be "not really southern".