RICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ Former Republican Sen. John Warner is backing his Democratic successor over the former national GOP chairman in Virginia’s U.S. Senate race. Warner told The Associated Press on Monday that he is supporting Sen. Mark Warner, who is being challenged by Ed Gillespie in November’s election. The Warners are not related. John Warner earned a reputation as a party maverick in his 30 years in the Senate. He refused to endorse the GOP nominee for lieutenant governor in 1993 and supported an independent over Iran-Contra figure Oliver North in the 1994 Senate race against Democrat Chuck Robb. But he says this is the first time he has endorsed a Democrat outright. John Warner defeated Mark Warner in the Democrat’s first Senate campaign in 1996.